I once came across my Dad’s high school yearbook – his senior year. I scoured the pages for a look at my Dad at the same age I was – 18 and a senior at Lewis & Clark. I couldn’t find him.
Finally on the last page was a dedication to several boys who snuck out of their parents’ home twelve months earlier, in 1943, enlisted in the Navy by lying about their age, and weren’t home to get their pictures in the yearbook or to graduate.
Think of this – this was a tiny little town, Jerome, Idaho. So small it didn’t even have a stop sign. (So small that when I was little and wrote to my grandfather, the postmaster for Jerome, he would know it was my letter even though it was addressed simply to Granddad, Jerome, Idaho). In 1943, Jerome High School experienced 50% less boys because they joined the service, to serve their country towards the end of World War II.
My Dad never made it to a ship; he was a reporter/clerk – it was his most profound disappointment. He never considered himself a Veteran, although I do.