Like many Americans, I grew up with books and John Wayne movies about WWII, but heard few stories from my father, father-in-law or relatives who actually lived it. They didn’t talk about it and it is now too late for me to ask. Charley Valera captured a vanishing opportunity by interviewing and chronicling the memories and impressions of local citizen-soldiers and their families. Through their eyes Charley provides wonderful insights into the war and how it impacted lives during this eventful period in our history.
Unlike conflicts since, WWII was an entire nation at war, not just the deployed soldiers overseas and their immediate families. Heavily censored newsreels at the movies informed the public while families went weeks with only occasional letters (also heavily censored). The fears, victories and boredoms are humbly recounted – often with humor. The “war stories” are fascinating, but equally so are the transitions from life before the war into wartime and the reintegration into local life afterwards. Through these men and women, and millions of others, the world was forever changed.
A big thank you to Charley for writing this book and to these men and their families who made possible my favorite T-Shirt quote: “Back-to-Back World War Champions”.