I’m finally getting around to reading, “The Greatest Generation.” On this Independence Day I’m willing to say, shame on me. I’m humbled and proud at the same time. If it were in my power, I would make this required reading for every American.
From the book … “This generation was united not only by a common purpose, but also by common values – duty, honor, economy, courage, service, love of family and country, and, above all, responsibility for oneself.”
When I read of the “sappers” (the soldiers at the front of the first wave on D-day, whose job was to find and detonate the land mines) who had their limbs blown apart but shot themselves full of morphine so they could stay conscious long enough to direct the men following them to safety, serving as human markers … I’m not too proud to say I choked up.
When I compare that to our current national debate over who can pee where … I’m speechless.
Was that generation perfect? Of course not, they let McCarthyism and racism linger far too long. But the big difference was that they understood that the world did not revolve around them. They understood they had a responsibility to their family, their community, their country.
While I don’t believe that either current presidential candidate is worthy to carry the backpacks of those men on the beaches of Normandy, I’m not without hope.
There still exists an undercurrent of good honest Americans, maybe even a majority. There are plenty of examples of those who sacrifice themselves to help others. They don’t make the headlines because it’s not sensational or sexy. For every bad cop, there are many more who serve to truly protect. For every teacher who is only concerned about their pension, there are many more who view their vocation as a calling. For every televangelist who is focused on making money, there are ministers in local congregations with a love for all of God’s children. And the list goes on.
I’m typing this to the rhythm of exploding fireworks … pray that we never forget the reason for our celebrating.
Happy Birthday American!