I'd read an article about Donald Stratton's memoir All the Gallant Men
in an article online and put it on my Amazon list for "later." My sister and brother-in-law were kind enough to pick the book up for me for Christmas, and I must say that the book lived up to the strong reviews and press it received. Donald Stratton is currently in his mid-90s, and is one of only a handful of living survivors of the attack on the USS Arizona
on December 7, 1941 during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Born and raised in rural Nebraska, Stratton paints a rare and absolutely unflinching portrait of life during the Depression and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. He is brutally honest about the hardships faced by his family and the rest of the state on a daily basis. Levels of deprivation thankfully rare today in the United States, but which were all too typical then. Yet these same hardships seem to foster a sense of perseverance in Stratton and many of his generation preparing them for the horrors ahead.
Stratton's sense of pride when being assigned to the Arizona
is palpable. His thoughtful and heartfelt characterizations of his fellow crewmen help you understand these men not mere statistics or caricatures in some Hollywood movie, but real people who had real dreams, goals, and aspirations which were in far too many cases cut brutally short.