Grenier, Bob. Central Florida’s World War II Veterans (Images of America). Charleston: 2016. 128 pages, b/w photos. ISBN 9781467116794, $21.99.
The Greatest Generation, those who fought World War II in whatever function, is silently, yet rapidly, passing on to their reward. When you stop to think that the end of World War II was more than 75 years ago you can easily fathom that it will not be long until the last veterans from the war pass.
Author Bob Grenier, who wears many hats including historian, museum curator, Walt Disney World employee, politician, historical activist, and more, has written what I find to be a very fitting tribute to the common soldier. This is not a book glamorizing the Generals or the Colonels, or even the Lieutenants. This is not a book glamorizing war nor condemning the enemy.
Instead, this is a book that reminds us of the soldiers who went to serve in faraway lands they might not have been able to find on a map were real people. They were fathers, sons, brothers, uncles, husbands, or boyfriends. In some cases, they were daughters, wives, sisters, aunts, or girl friends who served in organizations like WAVES, or as nurses, or were part of the Red Cross. Many of these brave women led the charge from the home front, planting Victory Gardens, recycling materials, working in manufacturing roles, single handedly caring for families, and struggling to keep morale high at home and abroad. Their importance and contributions should not be forgotten. Not all the men in the book survived. Some, like Medal of Honor recipient Robert M. McTureous, Jr., paid the ultimate price.
The book is broken down geographically into eight chapters with a concluding chapter titled Florida’s Gallant Sons and Daughters. The chapters feature soldiers who lived in or moved to an area and also highlights local markers or memorials to the War. Each chapter is loaded with photos; some contemporary, some from the war, some personal such as wedding photos, and some are memorials and remembrances. All tell a story though, and through the limited text allowed for each image, Grenier helps evoke a feeling of the image whether it be happy, sad, uncertain, confident, or scared.
This book reminds us how precious life is and that our time is fleeting. A generation called the greatest is rapidly leaving us. It will be left for us, the living, to remember them. With this slim volume, Bob Grenier has provided us a way to remember the men and women who helped stop Axis forces and allow the American way of life to continue. One cannot finish this volume and not be moved. Highly recommended.
**For full disclosure: Mr. Grenier is a friend of mine, and this book is published by the same publisher I am published by. I did however purchase my copy of his book at full retail price, and Mr. Grenier has in no way asked for me to write a review. The review is based upon my own reading and viewing of the book.
If you enjoyed Bob’s look at World War II veterans, I recommend you find a copy of his similar book for Civil War veterans. This book covers both Union and Confederate soldiers and shows how the war and its aftermath played a considerable role in the future development of Central Florida.
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