For members of the “Greatest Generation” 9/11 brought back memories of another “day of infamy” – the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. Two Hernando County residents were teenagers at the time.
Angelo [he is only identified by his first name to protect his privacy] is a 93-year-old World War II army veteran. He was 14 years old, living in Chicago at the time, and heard the news of the Japanese attack over the radio.
“My older brother went to enlist and I told him, ‘Bob, I wish I was your age so I could enlist too,’” Angelo states. “I felt a lot of anger about the attack.”
Four years later, at the age of seventeen, Angelo enlisted and served in the Army of Occupation in Germany. There he witnessed again man’s inhumanity to man when he worked to clean up the concentration camps.
On September 11, 2001, all his memories of the Pearl Harbor attack came flooding back to him. Angelo was living in Montana and again heard the news over the radio.
“I thought, how can somebody do a drastic thing like that – just kill people like that?” It hit me very hard seeing all those people running and jumping out of the building. It was infuriating, but what could I do? I couldn’t do anything. It sounded just like bombs going off.”
Spring Hill resident Nick Morana was 17 years old and a junior at Gonzaga College High School in Washington D.C. Morana also has vivid memories of December 7, 1941.
“We were numb. How could this deplorable event happen to us? This event hastened my desire to go into the service,” Morana remarks.
He went to the U.S. Army Air Corps recruiting office two days after Pearl Harbor and was told they wouldn’t take him because he had flat feet. The following year he was drafted and placed in the Army Air Corps.
Sixty years later, the United States was under attack again. He was watching TV and the broadcast switched to President Bush talking to a group of students in a classroom.
“A man came up to him and whispered something in his ear. He listened and then started talking to the students. He showed no emotion at all. Then another man came up to him, whispered in his ear and this time he got up and left.”
“My immediate reaction was panic. The TV was showing the planes hitting the Trade Center building. We felt sorrow for all the people in the building. I wished that I could be recalled to active duty.”
Like Angelo, Morana was too old to serve in the military. However, as a member of the local chapter of the Reserve Officers Association and the Retired Officers Association he pledged his support to the cause of defending our country.
The attacks of Sept. 11 changed us all. It brought the people of the United States together. Even other countries offered their condolences and support for the war on terrorism. One can only hope and pray that we never see these types of catastrophic happenings again.