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Surviving World War II Veterans share their stories

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SARASOTA, Fla.--- On Veterans' Day, Peter DeMare's kitchen table is covered with documents. To an outsider, it's just paper, but for him, each one is a vivid memory. At just 17 years old he was a seaman in the navy during World War II.

"I didn't know what I was getting into," said DeMare, "being in the service is a totally different life than what you're leading, especially to a young person that has no experience."

The most difficult memory for him is of visiting Nagasaki weeks after it was all but demolished by the Atomic bomb.

"It was inhuman," said DeMare, "that stuck in my mind more than any of my other experiences that I had in the service."

What he remembers the most, is talking to the Japanese people that managed to survive.

"Even though they were supposed to be the enemy I was looking at that young lady in a kimono and thought, that's my enemy?" said DeMare. "That was the experience that really moved me. It made me grow up."

Thousands of miles East in Germany, 19-year-old Private Edward Stackhouse was fighting the war on another front and ran into trouble in combat.

"All of the sudden all hell broke loose," said Stackhouse, "tanks were firing and machine guns were going boom, boom, boom."

That's when he became a prisoner of war. All he could think of, he says, was his family back home in Chicago. 

"My dad was broken up real bad when he found out," said Stackhouse, "he couldn't stop crying."

After seven months as a prisoner of war, Stackhouse finally returned home.

"We were waving like mad and hollering and we were happy to be home," said Stackhouse.

While Stackhouse and DeMare were worlds apart, they share one thing an ability to look back on their experiences today with newfound clarity.

"You don't really think about those things until you get to be my age and you retire and then those thoughts and everything start to appear and they start to have a meaning," said DeMare, "a feeling for one another."