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'We never would have won World War II if we had this kind of division' — A Pearl Harbor vet calls on Americans to unite around today's military
Harry L. Chandler knows he's among the last of a vanishing breed.
His fellow members of Massachusetts' Pearl Harbor Attack Veterans Post 1 are now gone. The post had its final meeting in June 2008 at the old Yankee Pedlar Inn in Holyoke, and its state organization disbanded later that same year.
His dear friend Robert A. Greenleaf, of Westfield, who was post commander, died two years ago. "What a loss," reflects Chandler one recent afternoon.
Before and since Greenleaf's passing, most all of the Western Massachusetts veterans who were at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, have died.
Borucki. Woicekoski. Lockhart. Toms. Mieleszko. Grimaldi. Fitzhugh. Kostanski. Stoklosa. And, more.
One by one, the voices of the men, many of whom each year shared recollections of that fateful day that propelled America into World War II, have fallen silent. Charles J. Lockhart, of East Longmeadow, was 95 when he died last Christmas Day. In September, William Kostanski, of Greenfield, died at 101. Only when his family surprised him with a 100th birthday party did Kostanski relent to speak – if only fleetingly – about his experiences at Honolulu's Schofield Barracks all those years ago. For decades, he never spoke about it.
Today, on the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Chandler, who grew up in Holyoke, chooses to look to the future. "What more is there for us to talk about," he asks. His concerns are less about the past and more about today's soldiers and the challenges they face.
"What's going on today is horrendous," he says. "There's so much division in this country. It's terrible. Let's put it this way, we never would have won (World War II) if we had this kind of division."
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Americans are more politically divided now than at any time in living memory.
It seems that the old adage about opinions and assholes has finally been proven without a doubt. And perhaps the most prominent people with both are America's retired general and flag officers.
Getting out of the military can be a challenging time, especially for those who only served one enlistment and are heading to college. In my case, I dropped out of school in 2008 and enlisted, then in 2012 left the Marines and returned to college, except this time I had a new identifier permanently affixed to myself. I was now a veteran, but I had no idea how that one little detail was going to impact and alter how I behaved. I felt like I was equipped with a wealth of experience far beyond my peers. I’d gone to war, done some stuff, and now I was going to show these civilians just how easy they had it. Post-military life would be a cinch and I’d be making mad bank in no time.
On May 28, Harambe, a lowland silverback gorilla, was killed by a sniper to save a small boy who had fallen into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. Harambe’s final moments were captured in a video that immediately went viral. He was 17 years old.