Alvin "Bud" Christopherson, 86, last week was back in the town where he spent much of his youth.
Bud came to Havre from his home in Salem, Ore. to attend his younger brother's funeral.
Hank Christopherson, 85, died Oct. 22, marking the passing of another from the Greatest Generation that won World War II for the United States and for civilization.
The Christophersons were born and raised in Montana, following their father, who work for the Burlington Northern Railway, up and down the Hi-Line.
He went to Hawaii for basic training, taking good-natured ribbing from friends about the difference in winter weather in Havre and Hawaii.
Bud graduated basic training on Dec. 6, 1941. His sergeant immediately put him on guard duty.
"I thought I was nine-feet tall," he said, as he guarded the largest naval operation in the Pacific. "All I could think was 'I wish the guys in Havre could see me now,'" he recalled.
The world changed the next morning.
Japanese forces pulled a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. A piece of shrapnel hit Bud's head. A bump remains there today.
"It could have been worse," he said.
For many others, it was a lot worse.
Bud was determined to help in the war effort. And so was his family.
Hank joined the Navy when he turned 16, the next year. Then their younger brother enlisted.
Their father, then in his 40s, also joined the Army, to help his sons fight the worst dictatorship the planet has ever known.
To Bud, his brother's death is a reminder that the generation that saved civilization is slowly passing.
He hopes that the stories of what his generation accomplished will live after the last of the brave people who fought the Axis are gone, but he's concerned.
Only two members of his regiment in the Pacific are still alive, he said. And later this year, the Pearl Harbor Survivors will disband because so few remain.
"Many young people don't know about World War II," he said.
A friend asked a young woman if she knew about Pearl Harbor, he said.
"No," the woman said. "I don't think I know Pearl."
His generation had a sense of patriotism, he said.
He attributes much of that to the teachers in his schools.
"Our teachers were the solid types," he said.
He laughs as he recalls his teachers leading his class as they marched into class while John Philip Sousa tunes were played.
They also taught the Montana Song. With a little prompting, he can still sing the words today.
So, Bud will keep wearing his Pear Harbor Survivors baseball cap, hoping to spread the word about what happened on Dec. 7, 1941.
At 86, he doesn't plan on stepping back from his cause or his other causes.
"I fought the war against fascism," he said. "Now I'm fighting another war — this time against corporatism."
He said he was despondent about the growing number of poor people and the widening gap between the rich and poor.
Now, at 86, he is full of confidence in the future of the United States.
The younger generation has renewed his confidence in the country.
"The Occupy Wall Street are doing wonderful things," he said. "There will be great changes in our country over the next year because of them.
(John Kelleher is managing editor of the Havre Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, (406) 265-6795 ext. 17 or (406) 390-0798.)