Every American of my parents' generation could tell you where he or she was on December 7, 1941. The attack on Pearl Harbor was seared into the collective consciousness.
My father was at Pearl. He was serving as a seaman, 2C aboard the USS West Virginia (picture below), had been there since November, 1940. He never talked much about his war experiences, though he somewhat casually mentioned swimming to safety from the sinking ship. He served in the Pacific, mostly aboard the USS Bennington after it was commissioned. He occasionally mentioned some of the places he saw, and told amusing stories of what happened when newbies crossed the equator for the first time and were inducted into the Court of King Neptune, a time-honored tradition sea tradition.
I knew he'd been awarded a Purple Heart for being wounded in action, but I never knew he'd received a Bronze Star until his death. Sometimes he'd get out his bosun's pipe and do calls if we asked nicely.
During the War Dad came home and married his high school sweetheart in 1944, then returned to his ship. I have a picture of them across the hall from where I'm writing this, my mom lovely in yards of white satin, my dad tall and proud in his dress blues. After the war he came home, went to work, raised us after my mom died young, and would have been puzzled if I'd said he was a hero.
But he was a hero. So here's to all the heroes, men and women, who served in the war. It's been 70 years since Pearl Harbor, and many of them, like my father, are gone, but we haven't forgotten them.