Eighty years ago, the world changed forever. It changed because squadrons of Japanese fighter planes swooped in over Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and sank several U.S. warships.
The act brought the United States into World War II.
It also changed the life of my favorite veteran. Forever.
My dad, Pete Kanelis, was a 20-year-old student at the University of Portland (Ore.). The attack on Pearl Harbor occurred the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. My grandparents, Dad and his six siblings were listening to news reports that were broadcast over the radio in their Portland home. Dad left the house, went downtown and on that day enlisted in the Navy. He wanted to get immediately into the fight.
He got there eventually in early 1942.
Dad was one of 16 million Americans who suited up to defend the world against tyranny. Fewer than 500,000 of them are alive today. Dad has been gone for 41 years. I honor his service every day that think of them. And I do think about him every single day. I will do so for as long as I take breath.
The world changed that day. The United States would emerge from World War II as the planet’s pre-eminent military and economic power. The Greatest Generation built the nation after it came home from the battlefields around the world. Dad was one of them.
He went back to school. He married my mother in the summer of 1946. I came along three years later; my two sisters arrived after I did. Mom and Dad both worked to build good lives for us all.
They were among the generation who defeated the tyrants.
The world changed forever 80 years ago. Count me as one American who relishes my good fortune to be born in what I believe is the world’s greatest nation built by its greatest generation.
Thank you, Mom and Dad.