Marines gather under the American Flag during a change of command ceremony aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, June 19, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Sarah Cherry)

Should media organizations capitalize the word 'veteran' as a formal title? One Marine veteran certainly thinks so.

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The USS Shaw explodes during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. (U.S. Navy photo)

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."

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In an era where Americans seem increasingly at each other's throats, Defense Secretary James Mattis has a simple idea for bridging the gulf between the civilian and military worlds: Be excellent to each other.

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U.S. Army photo

How do we define the amorphous and endless War on Terror?

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Amazon

The new Jack Ryan reboot that premiered on Amazon at the end of August marked the return of Tom Clancy’s eponymous Marine vet turned CIA super-spook to the forefront of American pop culture. Updated to reflect changing international threats, the series’ generally positive reception illustrates the staying power of Clancy’s vision of the military and national security realm. The New York Times’ Michael Hale observed that Jack Ryan is “still the Boy Scout, which is to say the godlike, morally superior American, stretching out his hand to the rest of the world.”

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U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Ricky Gomez

“One veteran I spoke with had interviewed for several jobs in the same industry without success. He attributed this to human resources people being biased against veterans. When I pointed out his negative attitude toward civilians and asked if he thought he had hidden it from the interviewers, he acknowledged they probably had picked up on it. ‘Would you hire someone you felt had a bad attitude toward you?’ I asked. He said he would not, yet he persisted in blaming civilians rather than holding himself accountable for his attitude.”

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