Lessons from the Greatest Generation

Memorial Day is a time to honor those men and women who gave their lives in service to our country, and to recognize those veterans still with us.

I hold a soft spot for WW II veterans, part of what Tom Brokaw termed the Greatest Generation. My parents, aunts, and uncles fit into that category, and while most of them are gone, their legacy provides lessons for those who remain:

Sacrifice
Has any generation given more? An evil plague was spread across Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, and stopping it required a great sacrifice. Millions enlisted into the military; many didn’t return.  And let’s not overlook the contributions of those who stayed behind on our shores.

After the war, these heroes turned their thoughts to family. They worked long hours — sometimes two jobs — to give their children a roof overhead, food on the table, and a chance for a better life.

Appreciation
The Greatest Generation lived through the Great Depression, and yet, still managed to appreciate what they had. My mother often spoke of the good times with friends and family — despite having very little money or material things.

Humility
It’s hard to overestimate the accomplishments of the Greatest Generation. Yet, I don’t ever recall a WW II veteran boasting about their achievements, choosing instead to speak of sacrifice, lost comrades, and the horrors of that war.

Now, it’s our turn
History will judge if we live up to the example set forth by the Greatest Generation. In the meantime, on this Memorial Day, let’s thank them (and all veterans) and do our best to follow in those footsteps.

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