chapter
8 Pages

Introduction

In 1947, James A. Michener predicted that the servicemen of World War II “will be remembered as long as our generation lives. Aft er that, like the men of the Confederacy, they will become strangers. Longer and longer shadows will obscure them, until their Guadalcanal sounds distant on the ear like Shiloh and Valley Forge.”1 What Michener predicted is now coming to pass, with veterans of the war dying at the rate of more than 1,100 a day (Bob Dole has called them “the disappearing generation”).2 As World War II recedes into the past, the shadows that obscure this event and its impact on the lives of Americans have lengthened, and in the process the horrors of the battlefi eld have been sanitized and the frictions on the home front discounted or even ignored. What Studs Terkel once called “the good war,” a phrase that he acknowledged contained a great deal of incongruity, has become the unambiguous Good War.3