(KHNL) - Fifteen years ago, he was anchoring America's most watched network nightly news program. Now, Tom Brokaw is retired from his job as managing editor and anchor of the NBC Nightly News, but he's returned to Pearl Harbor as keynote speaker for the 65th anniversary ceremony.
"Because I met all these wonderful men and their wives and the women who served as well and I realized how much the country owed them, the world owed them and how little attention they got because they were so modest, they didn't talk about themselves," he said.
He's become a sort of spokesperson for them, by sharing their stories of living during the Depression.
"They learned about deprivation and sacrifice, about going without early on. And that was pretty good training. A lot of them said to me, I never had a great breakfast until I joined the Army or joined the Navy. The first time I got a new pair of boots was when I enlisted. Think about that," he said.
He's written several books on what he calls, the greatest generation.
"People have challenged me on that and some members, even Andy Rooney says, I don't think we're the greatest generation, and so I say, that's my story and I'm sticking to it," he said.
Brokaw covered the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and is here now because he says he has a continuing debt to tell the stories of the people he's met and how they learned about loss and sacrifice. That'll be just part of his message. He'll also explain why he believes Japan's attack, in a way, saved that country.
"Because they lost the war and they're in a much better place now than they would've been if they had tried to occupy all of the Pacific effectively under military dictatorship. It would not have had a happy ending," he said.
Athough Brokaw believes this was a significant part of our history, he believes every generation has greatness within it.