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The 1940s was arguably the most important decade of the 20th century. The first half was consumed by World War II, an unprecedented global conflict, which produced a heady mixture of anticipation and fear for the coming battles among its countless participants.
Before the enemy could be engaged, soldiers huddled in foxholes, waiting for the signal to advance from superiors who just months before had been contemporaries. For loved ones back home, the waiting was equally unnerving—sometimes the details of a particular attack or campaign would not be revealed until a newspaper landed on their doorstep.
The Battle of Britain was fought in 1940, Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941, Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy in 1944, and less than a year later, Germany surrendered. It took two atomic bombs in August 1945 to convince Japan to do the same—a Parker 51 pen was chosen to sign the peace treaty between the U.S. and its former enemy.