As any historian will tell you, despite the voluminous coverage of World War II, there is much yet to be uncovered in the stories of the men and women whose lives were forever changed by the Second World War.
My own interest in World War II began as a child hearing stories about the service of a host of relatives and family friends with their own varied experiences in the war. These were not stories of martial heroics; in fact, I cannot recall a single story from any of the countless tales that I heard as a youth that discussed the trials of the battlefield. Each story helped paint an ever more complex tapestry of a life very different from the one which I knew—a life paid for by the service and sacrifice of those who shared their stories with me.
While there is surely value in discussing the thoughts and actions of history's major political, military, and social leaders, I seek to help my students see the events that shaped our world through the eyes of common people who, with the exception of time and location, were just like them. It is my continued hope that this approach will help my students understand that history is not just a series of boldfaced titles in a textbook, but the collective stories of real people whose lives made a difference.