Joining The “Grateful” Generation

Posted by Dave

Yesterday was June 6th, the anniversary of D-Day. On that day in 1944, 300,000 Allies stormed ashore at Omaha, Utah, Juneau, Gold, and Sword beaches. The Liberation of Europe was underway. It was a day burned into the collective memory of “The Greatest Generation.” Baby Boomers like me were also well aware of it, thanks to movies like The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan. Most of us actually knew (or were even related to) guys who had served in World War II, the defining conflict of the 20th Century. It may not have been Current Events to us, but its aftershocks were still being felt – from our Armies of Occupation to our own Selective Service ratings (IA, IIS, etc.).

But lets be real – to the kids of today, that was a long, long time ago.

Let’s put it in perspective, shall we? Clint Eastwood, who is not only still active but still growing as a creative talent, recently celebrated his 80th birthday. When he was born in 1930, the American Civil War had been over for 65 years. But to Clint and others of his age, that war was ancient history, dating back to a time before radio, movies, and automobiles. Well, to a child born in 2010, WWII is just as ancient – it also ended 65 years ago.

Known to today’s young (if known at all) as “the war fought in black and white,” the Allies’ victory over the Axis Powers dates back to a time before TVs, computers, microwaves, and cell phones – not to mention I-pods, I-pads, and texting. In other words, Iwo Jima goes exactly as far back in the “olden” days to contemporary kids as Gettysburg did to Clint and his contemporaries.

So I understand why many teens and pre-teens today feel no personal connection to “The Good War.” The trouble is, just about everything they take for granted as Americans is a direct result of the shared sacrifice of an entire generation of Americans, many of whom are still with us today. (But who are dying at the rate of 1,000 per day.) Whether they fought in Europe or the Pacific, or simply tended their “Victory Gardens” here at home, World War II was everybody’s war, with all called upon to help out in their own way.

Like it or not, Boomers like me, and Gen X or Gen Y-ers will never be the Greatest Generation – that’s already taken. But there is still time for those of us who are the direct beneficiaries of the Greatest’s clarity of vision, and their willingness to fight or even die for our liberty, to become members of The “Grateful” Generation.

So while you still can, thank anyone and everyone you meet who did their part to win what is still called – 65 years later – “The War.” They deserve it. Join me and the rest of The Grateful Generation.


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