(Archive - Week of November 27, 2004)
The Greatest Generation After listening to media reports regarding the ceremonies on Veterans Day, I heard nearly every reason why the Americans who fought and died in World War II are part of “The Greatest Generation.” Except one!
Sure, they've come close … mentioning the fight against Adolph Hitler, and the war our troops fought on two fronts – Europe and the Pacific. Those are the obvious.
What so many forgot to mention is the basics, and those basics were born in The Great Depression.
Those people – be they the men in the trenches and the Pacific Island jungles, the swabbies on the gun boats, the U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, fly-boys, nurses, and the U.S. Marines. These men and women survived the Great Depression and many saw their parents just getting by in the years leading up to World War II.
In my birthplace of Tennessee, I saw fathers go out each morning to look for work for 50 cents per day, only to come home that night dejected and crushed … and without a job. At age10 or even before, I was following a mule holding onto the handles of a plow in our rocky/hilly farm in Lawrence County, Tenn. It was so bad during the ‘30s, when I reached U.S. Marine Corps boot-camp at age 17, I thought I was on vacation with pay. I had room and board, shoes to wear, a bed to sleep in with a mattress, and I could send my monthly pay of $36 (I kept $5 for myself) to my mama and young sister to be used in support of their survival. They were living in the log house with no electricity, running water, bathroom, telephone or radio.
This changed our fathers as a result of their own experiences in World War I. Many of those fathers instilled the basics of patriotism and survival in their children. The children … the people who would go off to war in the 1940s.
It is what the economic woes of the 1930s gave The Greatest Generation that their parents probably never consciously intended.
Most all comrades of World War II veterans are humble. They have a love for life and a humor about them that is unmistakable. They are modest, ingenious, and creative.
What also stands out is their lack of desire to talk or brag about their war time experiences. Their stories – the details – are things most of them have tucked away in the farthest reaches of their minds.
Why? “Too painful.” Every single night since World War II my sleep has been interrupted with war time nightmares. No man should have to endure what we experienced.
Folks, we have many other generations, such as Generation X, Generation Why (Y) … and, of course, the Baby Boomers.
“The Greatest Generation,” a term that veteran journalist Tom Brokaw coined, is the one that includes the veterans of World War II in its ranks.
They championed the deprivation of the Depression, made monumental sacrifices during World War II, and then reshaped America's civil liberties and social rights.
Yes, there are heroes from other generations, such as those who experienced Ground Zero firsthand nearly three years ago, and the war on terror's Pat Tillman, who gave up a lucrative professional football contract only to die as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan. And more than 1,200 other young American who have died in George W. Bush Iraq War. This war should have never been fought.
No other generation as a whole, however, stands as "the greatest.” To those who fought in World War II – you are the greatest.
World War II was a war we had to win. If we had failed, English would not have been our language. We would have been speaking either Japanese or German. As you can read from the article below, most nations have problems but they have freedom to speak their own native language.
National World War ll Memorial
Casualties of World War II
In John F. Kennedy's inaugural speech...
When he was sworn in on January 20, 1961 as the 35th President of the United States, this is part of what he said:
"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty."
An officer and a gentleman
Most of us were positive thinkers during World War II. We lived and died believing Walter D. Wintle's poem. I became acquainted with an officer and gentleman by the name of Major General Ray Bell, USA-RET, who lived in Pensacola, Fla. He died at age 92 in the same house that he was born. Gen. Bell served as an infantry officer in World War II, Korean War, and the Vietnam War. He liked me, we had a lot in common, because I also served in the infantry with the First Marine Division during World War II and the Korean War. The first time I met Gen. Bell he recited this poem to me from his heart.
The Man Who Thinks He Can
If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you'd like to win, but think you can't,
It's almost a cinch you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you're lost,
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow's will;
It's all in the state of mind.
If you think you're outclassed, you are;
You've got to think high to rise.
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the one who thinks he can.
––– WALTER D. WINTLE
Insights on ourselves and other countries of the world
Geography educator and seventh-grade teacher David Smith has influenced teachers and students in 30 countries on five continents by asking the simple question, “What if the world were a village of 100 people?” In such a world,
Twenty-two speak a Chinese dialect.
Twenty earn less than a dollar a day.
Thirty-two are of the Christian faith.
Seventeen cannot read or write.
Thirty-nine are under 19 years of age.
There are 42 radios, 24 television sets, 30 telephones (half are cellular phones), and 10 computers.
Fifty people do not have a reliable source of food and are hungry some or all the time.
Twenty others are severely undernourished.
Thirty always have enough to eat.
One visits a museum each year.
One attends the theater.
There are seven copies of a newspaper at any one time for 83 people to read.
Smith has been reaching out to people around the world through his 2002 illustrated book, “If the World Were a Village.” You may find it in children's sections of libraries and bookstores, but the implications are intended for all ages.
Smith hears from teachers who are working with their students to cast their city, region or country into a village of 100, and at upper levels, and certainly more difficult, those who are projecting 200 years. So he published a curriculum guide, “Mapping the World by Heart.”
Why do we need a new map of the world? According to David Smith, we all carry around mental maps formed mainly by habit and repetition. “Everybody has a map in their heads comprised of those parts of the world that are real to the person who is mapping it.” He adds, “My job as a geography teacher – better yet, a ‘world-mindedness' teacher, is to help people develop that internal map.” At the same time, he encourages them to “acquire a compassionate, respectful attitude toward fellow inhabitants of the planet.”
“The only way we are going to be able to survive is if we see all the other people as villagers with us – who share our need of water, food, clean air…”
WORDS OF WISDOM:
“The trouble with people is not that they don't know but that they know so much that ain't so.”
–––– Attributed to JOSH BILLINGS (1874)
This came to me from George M. Barrows, Sr. via Harold Shipp.
"NOAH FROM THE HORSES MOUTH. THIS STAMP COMMEMORATING GENS LEJEUNE, PULLER AND GYSGT BASILONE AND SGT MAJOR DAN DALEY WILL BE RELEASED AS OF 21 MAY 2005. GEORGE BARROWS"
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