Thursday was the 75th anniversary of the Allies victory over Japan – VJ day as many vets called it, including my Navy Dad. Most Californians went to the Pacific and so many died as they fought the Japanese island by island all the way to Japan. So few WWII vets are still alive to tell their individual stories but the legacy of “The Greatest Generation” is worth considering in our current crisis.
Yes, there are quirks. Because of the bank failures in the early ’30’s, my Father was afraid of debt. He paid cash for everything. Many families paid in installments BEFORE they got their purchases. Have you heard of, or do you remember “Lay-Away Plans”? Can you imagine waiting 2 month to get that sweater you were drooling over?
Or did you have a Grandma who would stuff her purse with the rolls and butter when you took her out to dinner? (So embarrassing, right?) Too many nights going to bed hungry as a child can be pretty formative.
Everyone in that generation sacrificed. First during the depression, then in the war and for the war. The war effort came first. Any physically-able man volunteered or was drafted. Metal was collected, food was rationed, people were asked to buy war bonds. Women, and older men stepped in to keep the country going.
And honor. – not a word we talk about much these days. “On my honor”, what does that mean? We don’t even say that anymore, unless we are quoting a scout’s pledge. We might describe it as a combination of personal responsibility and integrity.
What would be the translation of Honor, Duty and Sacrifice be for our world today? Perhaps: Do the right thing and take care of others even if it means you do less for yourself. You would not have to explain that to the greatest generation, so curious that we have to explain it today. We do use the word honor with phrases like “in honor of…”.
So let’s try one:
In honor of those who fought for our freedom, with honor, duty and sacrifice, I suggest you pick one thing, or one thing more you can do in this moment of crisis to make them –the greatest generation– proud of us. Let me know what you did and I’ll share it next week.