‘Greatest Generation’ still resilient

Published 12:31 am Wednesday, September 2, 2015

President Harry S. Truman once said, “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. American will never forget their sacrifices.”

Two weekends ago, I had the opportunity to take a trip to celebrate the 70th anniversary of World War II.

Part of a committee headed by John Vick, we took more than a dozen World War II veterans to the Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin for the festivities.

That was the first time I’d had the opportunity to be around that many World War II veterans in my life.

My grandfather is a World War II Army veteran, having served in Leyte during the war, and my other grandfather’s brother was killed in Leyte during the war and received a Purple Heart.

My grandmother’s uncle was stationed at Pearl Harbor with the Army Air Corps when the Japanese attacked. He sustained wounds to his legs and one of his fingers.

I grew up hearing my great-uncle’s story of surviving Pearl Harbor and I’ve always been mesmerized by American history.

Seeing the excitement in the eyes of the 90-plus-year-olds’ eyes, was a feeling that words cannot describe.

The program was a small token of gratitude for the sacrifices made by these veterans, and included Reveille, lectures on different aspects of the War, a re-enactment of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima and more.

It was good to see them interact with one another, and it was even better to meet them and photograph them. It was easy to understand why they are dubbed the “Greatest Generation.”

It was a long day, but they all showed resilience. Nothing was going to stop them from enjoying their day.

The blog artofmanliness.com says the men of the Greatest Generation have traits from which we can all learn.

• Take personal responsibility for your life.

• Be frugal. I know I tell my grandmother all the time, she’s a pack rat, and she readily admits it. She’s not a hoarder, but nearly everything has value to her and she said she never knows when she may need something.

• Be humble. My grandparents are the first to help someone in need, but the last to ask for help when they need it themselves.

• Work hard. My grandfather only recently retired in his 80s and only because a stroke knocked him down. Nearly all the men his age I know had the same mentality.

I’ll add another one from my grandfather to the list.

• Be smart. One of his favorite departing phrases is “don’t be taking no wooden nickels.” In other words, don’t let anyone deceive you. These guys fought and sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy and many of us take for granted each day. They did so by making good, wholesome decisions to provide for their families.

The majority are the kings of simplicity, and they understand life’s really about family, friends, hard work and happiness, and that everything else is just icing.