World War II
People sometimes call World War II a "good war" (especially in
contrast to the Vietnam War) because they perceive it as a time when the American
people were unified in fighting for a just cause. Many who lived through it
have good memories of their personal experiences too. Of course, these attitudes
are by no means universal. Was World War II a "good war" for your
To support your argument, get some family stories about this era. The following
questions should elicit family stories that will be useful to you. Composing
your own questions might be even more successful, especially if you base those
questions on your knowledge of your family chronology and history.
Questions for veterans:
- How are World War II veterans different from veterans of other wars?
- How did military service change your life? or did you come out much the
same as you went in?
- What was the first day in the service like?
- What was the scariest moment for you?
- Was there a time that makes you laugh when you think about it?
- Who were your buddies? Where were they from and what were they like?
- What do you think of the movie Saving Private Ryan?
Questions for anyone with memories of the war or who remembers family stories
- Some people use the phrase the "greatest generation" when they
talk about Americans who were of the age to serve in World War II. Is that
generation the "greatest generation"?
- What was the scariest thing that happened during the war?
- Is there anything you miss about the war years?
- What sorts of things were rationed, and how did that affect your family?
- Did any of the women in your family work for wages during the war?
More general questions for further conversation:
- When you were growing up, who were your parents' friends? Did adults and
kids spend time together or did kids keep to themselves?
- When you were growing up, was there any special adult who looked after you
when your parents were away?
- When you were growing up, were there any adults in your life who were particularly
mean or difficult?
- Who did you want to be like when you grew up?
- When did you know that you were finally an adult?