I remember the end of the war, though my memory is suspect. What I recall is being at camp—every summer, my parents sent me to what we called camp, a sort of impoverished resort for young boys that lasted two weeks—when word came that the war was over. The boys went wild in celebration. The problem is that the war didn’t end in the summer. Germany surrendered in May 1945, the Japanese in September. So I don’t know what we were celebrating.
And I remember the aftermath when consumer products slowly became available again. Life went back to being the way it had been before the war.
Only years later did I come to understand how fortunate we were as a family during the war. My father was too old to join the military, but two of my uncles on my mother’s side saw combat. One was so damaged that he never returned to normal. Only after Vietnam did I realize how fortunate the U.S. has been to have fought its wars not on its native soil but abroad.
I know now that the U.S. suffered from World War II but far less than our allies. The last war we fought on our own territory was the civil war. No American now alive knows the damage war inflicts on one’s homeland. With luck, we never will.