“The Greatest Generation” is a term made popular by journalist Tom Brokaw to describe the generation who grew up in the United States during the deprivation of the Great Depression, and then went on to fight in WWII, as well as those whose productivity within the war’s home front made a decisive material contribution to the war effort, for which the generation is also termed the G.I. Generation.
That is a direct quote from Wikipedia. But let me tell you what it means to me. Tonight I have been watching “The Pacific”, an HBO miniseries made by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. As I said earlier, I have had a longing to go to the south pacific since I was a child, and I’ll tell you why. I wish to stand on the actual beach that so many Marines gave their lives for. On Guadalcanal, Munda, Bougainville, Rabaul, New Britain and many others. Places where men fought and died, for nothing more than 50 yards of sand. Hero’s all, not understanding the true purpose of being there, but doing their part. Many would say, it was a waste of life, a foolish politicians game, but I know better. They were fighting for the future of freedom.
On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed, with all the members of the Continental Congress fully understanding what that meant. Their lives where now forfeit. They did it knowing full well that many people were going to die in the name of freedom from tyranny and oppression. Because of the sacrifice of those, and many others, you have the ability to live your life, and worship your god as you please.
The Civil War was first, and foremost about ending slavery in America. Thousands of men died, and yet people still think racism is rampant. Have we not elected a black President? Are there not many black teachers, lawyers, senators, judges and more? Yes there are people that are still raciest, but shall we fault the entire country for the idiocy of a few?
It makes me sick to think about the protesters that spit on returning soldiers from Viet Nam. Again, they were all condemned by many due to the actions of a few. War is Hell, so they say. It can make the bravest man shit his pants, but a coward may stand up and save an entire village. How do you know what it was like if you were not there? How can you pass judgement on someone if you don’t know how you would react?
I don’t think of myself as a patriot. I’m not going to stand outside on veterans day and wave a flag. But I do know what the Korean War did to my father, and how that affected our relationship. My father is now committed to the VA hospital in Maine. He has dementia and PTSD. He tells the story over and over again about how he went to sleep one night in a 12 man tent, and woke in the morning with every other man’s throat slit during the night. That’s called psychological warfare, and he never got over it. He always wondered why it was them and not him. How do you live with something like that? I can not comprehend how that affected him during his life.
Nothing good in life is free, somehow, someone had to pay for it. I say to people who want to judge everyone on the actions of a few, screw you, move to a different country and see how well you words are tolerated. Laws are necessary to keep a formal order of things, but common sense needs to be applied. Laws should be just and enforced equally. If you feel injustice is prevalent, don’t try to divide the country, try to unite it with the values we all believe in. We need leaders that understand we all are a little different, but we all want the same thing. FREEDOM!
The Greatest Generation stood up to the aggression of others with a steadfast union of will, a united front of hope that overcame the sorrow and fear of a world of conquest and despair. We stood together as a nation and overcame the worst that others could throw at us, and came out better for it. I have indirectly paid that price. I lost out on all the things a father and son should have enjoyed. I watched my father endure all the pain and suffering of a solider. I have seen first hand what it does to a persons soul. If you have not been here, than shut the hell up!