Do you harbor any hatred towards Germany?
I will never go back to Germany. I was there on a tour of duty after the war, though I never fought there on the front lines.
Was it hard to return to civilian life?
No, I was looking forward to it. After the war, I worked with my father as a glazier.
What was the most challenging facet of the military?
Nothing and everything. It was a job we had to do. We had to defend our county. There was no time to dwell on such issues. I went through basic training learning how to march and shoot at targets, but other than that you are never prepared.
What are your thoughts on the military today?
If somebody wants to serve-go ahead! Why not? I couldn’t wait to serve my country. Although war then was different than the way it is today. I think many of the wars we engage in now are unnecessary.
Josh Rosenthal, Harry’s son, later joined us for the interview. I commented on how proud he must have been being a child with a father who served in WWII. Josh added his own perspective to the portrait of his father:
Josh: My father’s army experience always appeared to be the defining moment of his life. He is very proud of his service to his country, knowing he was fighting a noble war, but at the same time, true to his humble nature, he would minimize his own contributions. Interestingly, my father never encouraged me or others to join the army during the Vietnam War. He felt that was a less noble war, and not worth risking your life for.
My father loves telling his army stories to his grandchildren and now great-grandchildren, who by now know them by heart. Even as he’s aged, and his memory has diminished as is typical for someone in his nineties, those army memories still remain indelible.
Above all, my father is proud that he both did his patriotic duty, and returned home unscathed by the ravages of war. Throughout his life, he has remained true to his Torah beliefs and has been zocheh to see his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all shomrei Torah u’mitzvos – the biggest reward of all for a life well lived.