The Greatest Generation – Why America needs them more than ever

By Ray Starmann

They were called Bob, Harry, Red, Leo, Dick and Mary. They trudged through the jungle on Guadalcanal, waded through mounds of volcanic ash on Iwo Jima, shivered miserably at a place called the Bulge and gave a dying GI life-saving plasma at a hospital in Italy. Some worked in the factories that churned out tanks and planes and fuel barrels 24/7, while others waged war with slide rules and chemistry beakers.

They never complained because they knew the task at hand was so important that the future of the world rested in their hands. As Winston Churchill so eloquently put it, “If we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Churchill knew that with victory, “All Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.”

They knew to live in a world run by a Hitler or Tojo or Mussolini was not an option. They would do whatever they had to do, even if it meant some of them had to die. For them there was no substitute for victory.

They had a look in their eyes and an aura that symbolized the greatness and goodness they represented. This country had never seen a generation like them before and may very well never see one like them ever again.

They were our mothers and fathers, our grandparents. Since they first retired and then began to pass away, the country has never been the same.

Every generation America produced has done many great things. But, without a doubt, the generation that won World War II, saved the world and secured the most prosperous peace in history is in a class by itself.

We need to study their lives and actions in detail; from the way they paid for goods to the way they waged war and conducted foreign policy.

The Greatest Generation can still teach us many things: hard work, respect for the rule of law, a selfless can do attitude, an enviable sense of patriotism and above all, standing up in the storm and doing what is right.

The Greatest Generation believed in the almighty, everlasting power of the United States of America. To them every other country on earth was either a “has been” or an up and coming punk on the corner. There was no questioning of our greatness. There was no denying our wealth. There was no hiding from American exceptionialism. To them we were the guardians of goodness on the planet and anyone who denied that could go straight to Hades.

While this patriotism may appear from time to time on the surface today, I believe many Americans wonder if we are indeed on our way out, and ready to land on the ash heap of history with other defunct formally great powers like the Romans or the British.

As of now, American is in retreat, at home and across the world. Our foreign policy is in shambles. The Russians continue to outwit us in a carnival shell game of obfuscation and aggression. ISIS runs rampant across Syria and Iraq, committing mass murder and conquering new territory. The Chinese smile at us and talk trade and then attempt to scare us out of the South China Sea.

Americans have become self-centered, pleasure seeking, and too worried about mundane and trite nonsense on social media. We have become the masters at wasting time. As a nation we are too focused on feeling insulted and demanding someone apologize for the most ludicrous of reasons. And, if no apology is forthcoming then that person is ostracized into digital oblivion.

Can you imagine a GI from the 1st Infantry Division riding in a Higgins boat, ready to land on Omaha Beach and wondering how many “Likes” he has on Facebook or another GI taking a selfie with the Normandy cliffs in the background?

We need to get back to basics and spend more time solving our problems than complaining. We need to reinvigorate that can do, common sense attitude that used to be as American as apple pie.

While respect for the military is at an all-time high, the public must understand that patriotism entails more than “supporting the troops” by standing at attention during the national anthem at a football game. Freedom is not free. It never has been. It never will be.

In 1964, on the 20th anniversary of D-Day, CBS newsman Walter Cronkite – who as a young UPI reporter had landed behind enemy lines that night in a troop-carrying glider – interviewed Eisenhower on Omaha Beach. Gazing at the coastline, the former allied commander and retired president recalled why that mammoth invasion was different from famous battles in ancient history: “It’s a wonderful thing what those fellows were fighting for and sacrificing for, what they did to preserve our way of life. Not to conquer any territory, not for ambitions of our own. But to make sure that Hitler could not destroy freedom in the world. I think it’s just overwhelming; to think of the lives that were given for that principle, paying a terrible price on this beach alone. But they did it so the world could be free. It just shows what free men will do rather than be slaves.”

To paraphrase President Kennedy, a World War II veteran himself, “We need to ask once again, what we can do for our country.”

4 comments on “The Greatest Generation – Why America needs them more than ever
  1. The Greatest Generation spawned the Baby Boomers, the worst-est generation. I find it ironic that the generation that saved the world has children who did everything to destroy the USA.

  2. i went thru the great war,i know what it is like to have nothing, all my brothers served in the war. and all came back safe. to lose your freedom . god help us. with the pres, wimpy in the white house we could very well lose our freedom. this country had better wake up before its to late,

  3. The “Greatest Generation” was not only involved in WWII but was hardened by the great depression of the 1930’s. They were given an American foundation as children by parents who, in a lot of cases, came to the United States from other lands because they wanted the freedoms they could not find anywhere else and cherished this country for allowing them to live and achieve as they wished. Being scarred by the loses of WWI, a majority of the Greatest Generation were against involvement in the European and Asian wars and elected a isolationist congress throughout the 1930’s to insure we did just that. But when the country was attacked at Pearl Harbor in 1941, that passive, isolationist generation came together as a united nation, determined to protect their homeland’s history and future. The isolationist congress voted a unanimous declaration of war – with the exception of one vote -against our enemies. Lead by FDR and Winston Churchill, backed by a enormous manufacturing and production empire, that hardened and faithful generation gave their blood, sweat and tears to insure future generations would live under the blessings of our Constitution.

    The author wants this generation to use the Greatest Generation as an example to bring us back to greatness.
    That is wishful thinking. Today’s generation has not been hardened by sacrifice; for the most part, it has not
    experienced the tortures or peril’s of living under Communism/Nazism or any authoritarian dictatorship. This generation lives under the rules of political correctness that destroys the very elements of Americanism that the parents of the Greatest Generation instilled into them. They live under an American media who’s purpose it is to create another America, an America that will look like the land that the parents of the Greatest Generation escaped to America from. They have been educated in an education system that encourages personal and national weakness; that encourages them to return to the systems of government that the parents of the Greatest Generation came to this country from. They exist on electronic machines and devices for their communication and thinking. They no longer have the national leaders or the American manufacturing might that could allow them to survive in a great emergency. In short, the foundation and environment of this generation is not strong enough to compete with, understand or even imitate the Greatest Generation. The best this generation can do will be able to study what the Greatest Generation did and ask why they did it.

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  4. The current Democratic voting majority is composed of a variety of totally disparate minorities: feminsits, hispanics, blacks, environmentalists, LGBTs, Trans-Sexuals, people with disabilities, people of different but intense religious beliefs annnnd more I’m sure. What all these groups have in common, other than the cover of the Democrat party, is that none of them were part of the Greatest Generation – in fact far from it. None of them were anywhere near the forefront in America’s rise to superpower status. None. Think about that – and think about the future of the, “… shining city on the hill.”

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