Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Greatest Generation - once again

"The more I learn about this generation, to more in awe I am. Without their sacrifice, our lives today would look much different - and not in a good way."

I don't know why, I but I have thinking quite of bit as of late about the generation before mine. What is commonly known today as the Greatest Generation. Many of us had parents which came out of that generation. I did. My wife did. And that generation had many traits which today are not really that common. I am saying that to offend nobody. But the Greatest Generation was indeed very special. Hardened by the Great Depression, when the call came to defend the world from the Axis war machine, most came running to heed that call.

One of John Kennedy's most famous quotes was to "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." I could not think of a better quote to define that generation. They were warriors when the need was to be warriors - and when the time came to beat their swords into plowshares, they excelled at that also. After the war was over, this generation not only rebuilt our country from a war footing to an industrial powerhouse, we helped rebuild our former enemies land also. 

Many of the Greatest Generation ended up working for the newly created NASA. They were the brains behind getting a man into space. But then they also heeded the President's call to have men land on, and return from the Moon. Some went to work for car companies and made Detroit a mecca for American manufacturing and know how. Others went into medicine and grew our bio-tech and medicine industries into the envy of the world. All these things while owning a house, having a car in the driveway, and raising a family. 

Growing up in a house with the Greatest Generation was a gift to me. Not only by the examples they set, but also the stories they told. Their goal for us, the next generation, the Baby Boomers, was to carry on what they handed to us. And I would like to say we excelled in that. But we have not. Not even close. Like the Prodigal Son who squandered the treasure his Father gave him, as have we. We have taken this great country and put it on a course of financial destruction. Of that, I am ashamed. 

The generations which will follow ours, the so called Gen-X and Millennials, have every right to think of my generation as selfish. Rather than the "thinking about thee" generation that our folks came out of, my generation has shown we are all about "thinking about me". And from that, our kids have patterned well. 

My Mom and Dad are no longer here, so I can no longer tell them a simple "thank you". However, in the rare times I meet someone who came from the Greatest Generation, I take the time to greet them, and then to thank them. Often times, it catches them off guard. Thanks for what, they are thinking? In their humbleness, what they did for the next generation was not spectacular, it was just something they did. Things that needed to be done. And they did them so well indeed!   

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