My Pop, who served in the Navy during World War II, was fond of sharing stories of his military years, and they always started out with the phrase, “When I was in the service of my country, fighting for mankind....” It reminded his children and grandchildren of the magnitude of the war and the sacrifice millions made.
In 1938, Maria von Trapp fled the Nazi takeover of her Austrian homeland along with her father, her siblings, and her similarly named governess-turned-stepmother, Maria Kutschera von Trapp. Their adventure eventually inspired one of the most beloved film musicals in history, The Sound of Music, which made Julie Andrews (who played stepmother Maria) into a superstar.
During World War II, major league baseball stars who were called up to serve in the military often got relatively cushy assignments, working as physical education trainers or playing in exhibition games to entertain their fellow troops. But not pitcher Lou Brissie, at the time a promising prospect coveted by the Philadelphia Athletics' Connie Mack.
During World War II, John Spence was the kind of hero who belonged in a comic book or movie serial. He was a member of an elite, top-secret team of combat divers called "frogmen," trained by the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of today's Central Intelligence Agency, for critical but highly dangerous missions - from rescuing downed airmen before they could be captured to planting explosives on underwater barriers set up by the enemy to hinder beach landings by U.S. troops.
Rick Atkinson's Guns at Last Light has topped bestseller lists since May. It was the third volume in the "Liberation Trilogy," his epic history of World War II, and now the two-time Pulitzer winner has reupped for another conflict: the Revolutionary War.
Robert Emmett "Bob" Fletcher, who died on May 23 at age 101 in the Sacramento area, fought heroically to defend his fellow Americans during World War II, though he never put on a uniform or fired a shot. His struggle, though, was not against the Axis powers. Rather, it was against an injustice perpetrated by the U.S. government itself: the 1942 forced relocation of 122,000 Japanese-Americans, most of them citizens, to internment camps, where they were held without charges out of a misguided suspicion that they might be disloyal. In addition to losing their liberty, the Japanese-American internees often lost the homes and businesses that they had to leave behind. In particular, Japanese-American farmers, who had to leave their crops untended, risked ruin.
George Aratani was as personally well-known as the imported products sold by the companies he founded - most notably, the Mikasa line of dinnerware, and Kenwood home audio equipment.
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