Thanking The “Greatest Generation” On Memorial Day And Beyond

Posted by Dave

Last week I was invited to give 2 presentations on Memorial Day. Both of these – appropriately enough – took place at Senior Living centers. And after both events, I left with the feeling that I had received much more from the residents than I could ever possibly have given to them.

Using Tom Brokaw’s best-seller as a springboard, I talked about the courage and sacrifice of Americans during World War II – a time most of my audience remembered very well. Singing songs of the era for them (and with them), I was amazed as always at their letter-perfect recall of the lyrics, and the way that – as they sing – they temporarily shed the 65 years or so which have intervened.

Through the 50s and 60s, in addition to raising Boomers like me (the “Whiniest Generation”), these folks discovered cures for diseases that had plagued humankind since the dawn of time, enacted landmark civil rights legislation, and bestowed on their children a level of affluence undreamed of in their own early years.

As the 80′s ended, their relentless pressure on the Communist despots of Eastern Europe caused the Berlin Wall to fall, one totalitarian Iron Curtain regime after another to topple, and another billion souls to learn the meaning of freedom that my generation takes for granted.

It is the nature of superlatives like “greatest” that only a few will ever qualify for such a distinction. But Brokaw was right when he appended an “e-s-t” to that particular generation. Never in human history have so many changes for the common good occurred in such a short time.

I was honored to spend time with these precious people. And I encourage you to do the same at every opportunity. They deserve so much more than we can ever give them. It is fitting that more and more members of my generation – the “Me” generation – are at last saying thanks to those whose deeds have meant so much to so many.

We Boomers will never be “the greatest.” But some of us – I’m happy to report – are at last becoming members of “The Grateful Generation.” I hope you’ll join us – while those we owe so much are still here to thank.


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