This holiday has special meaning to me.
Not because I have served in the armed forces, but because I have fascination and appreciation for those who have served and those who are currently serving.
About 7 years ago, I read a book that sent me on a quest to know more about World War 2. Whenever I get around someone from that generation, I usually pull up a chair and ask lots of questions. Then I get choked up because of their sacrifice for our country. I just had that experience yesterday.
Here's my journey through some of the WW2 books I've read that have helped me come to appreciate the greatest generation of our history (they grew up through a depression, gave their lives in a brutal war, established businesses with great work and ingenuity when they returned, and then never asked for anything in return):
In Harm's Way by Doug Stanton- Excellent book, worth reading. Amazing how these men survived 4 days lost at sea
Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides- a solid read about the greatest rescue mission in world history (ok, there may be one that was better)
Citizen Soldier by Stephen Ambrose- Ambrose is probably the most accessible writer I've read in the historical nonfiction category. This book is incredibly detailed and yet I wanted to keep reading. Unrelated to the war theme, his book Undaunted Courage is also worth reading (the story of Lewis and Clark)
Flags of our Fathers by James Bradley- This was a NY Times best seller, but I didn't enjoy it as much as the others.
We Die Alone by David Howarth. Amazing story about how this dude survived in the Norwegian arctic to escape the Germans. However, I wouldn't put it at the top of your reading list on this topic.
D-Day by Stephen Ambrose. A spectacular and comprehensive look at the greatest land invasion of all time. We may never see anything like this again. O God help us.
A Time to Die by Robert Moore- about the sinking of the Russian sub, The Kursk. This taught me a lot about Russia's relationship with the rest of the world. We could've saved these men, but they refused our help.
The Terrible Hours by Peter Maas- A NY Times best seller about the man behind the greatest sub rescue in history. Obviously, it's a happier book than A Time To Die. Juxtapose these two books and you'll have the basic difference between American (We like happy songs in major keys) and Russian (they prefer the dirge in minor keys and seem more acquainted with sadness) worldviews.
Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose. This is one book about which it must be said- the movie did justice to the book. In fact, the movie may have been better. I've already written something related to this- click here.
The Green Berets by Robin Moore- Of course it's about a brutal war (Vietnam), but it's more graphic and crass than the others I've referenced. It's true fiction about how the special ops went about business in Vietnam.