Most of the Greatest Generation of Americans would be 83 years old or older — my own father is now 85 (center, front Navy man). It is just him and my uncle Ted (back, left Army man) who remain alive now.
How fortunate for my Busia, that her four sons returned to her (in Detroit) alive. My uncle Joe (2nd from left in back Army) was stationed in Hawaii after Pearl Harbor was attacked. My uncle Steve (left-most, front Navy man) joined Joe there in Hawaii briefly for a war time reunion / shore leave.
From 1941 to 1945, receiving a telegram was something to dread. My grand-aunt, Antonina (Toledo) awaited her four sons too. God Bless my family, but eight men returned from the war safely to resume their lives. Alas, for Antonina and her ailing heart, receiving a telegram about one her sons was too much for her sickly heart and though her sons survived the war, she did not survive that telegram bringing news from the war.
In my wife’s family her uncle Milton, a 2nd Lt. in the Army is buried at Arlington National Cemetery (he had survived WWII too). Her own father had finished his service to country in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyards — just two weeks. He died from that service. He contracted mesothelioma (asbestos poisoning) from his final two weeks — but was fortunate enough to raise a family before succumbing 42 years later to this hidden War-time scourge.
Detroit was the Arsenal of Democracy, shifting from cars to tanks/planes. Many people do not realize that population shift that war caused. A Huge migration from the South swelled the population of Detroit as workers were required to keep the factories running 24x7x365. I still remember eating Southern “cuisine” in diners in the greater Detroit area decades after the war.
Back East, the Shipyards were busy building the warships with their armaments. The USS Dixie (AD-14), Tender Destroyer that my own father served on was built right here in Philadelphia (launched on 27 May 1939) — probably in that Navy Ship Yard. A far cry from that 1913 September day that my grandmother arrived in Philadelphia. How funny for a Midwestern boy, that Philadelphia would be where my grandmother arrived, where my father’s WWII ship was made and where I would wind up living and raising a family with my Philly girl.
Before, I started genealogy 15-16 years ago, I did not know my grandmother arrived in Phillly (we thought Ellis Island like my grandfather and so many others). I did not know that ship my father served on was built here. I had not even moved to Philly yet. Destiny draws you to these places and then you discover that the history of your family preceded you. Full circle.
Remember the Day of Infamy (70 years ago) ! Remember 9/11/2001 too, now ten years ago. Family History Marches on.