I was in the first wave of the Baby Boom Generation. We grew up having all of the adults in our lives being those who had seen the U.S. and its allies through to victory in WWII. Naturally, we were taught a lot about that historic conflict and the events leading up to it. Although it was exciting to have much of that information passed along first-hand, directly from the participants, you could only imagine what it was like to actually live through the experience yourself. I have to admit to some ongoing and perhaps perverse, ambivalence about that. On one hand, I was thankful to have been spared the horrors and hardships we heard about. On the other hand, I felt that I had missed out on getting to go through a most interesting time in history.
As it’s become more and more apparent that the once menacing threat represented by ISIL is no longer a threat but is, in fact, an evil and deadly reality, that’s been disturbing enough on its own. Making it even more disturbing to me is seeing the similarity of these circumstances to events leading up to WWII. It’s been giving me the sense that I may actually end up living through an experience like (or most likely worse than) WWII. No doubt, it would be an “interesting” time but, considering the horrors and hardships that have already come with it, I’m left without any desire to go through something like this myself. Continue reading
A wonderful compliment to Here I Raise My Ebenezer’s series on Securing the Legacy of the Greatest Generation. While we’re still blessed with their presence, let’s honor them and take time to get even better acquainted.
By: Cindy Shabaz
Cross-Posted From: Cindy’s Ponderings
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It was the end of a long day for the 91 WWII veterans who left Chicago at 6:30 a.m. to tour War Memorials in Washington, D.C. But 9:00 p.m. was the beginning of the celebration for us; those who were welcoming them home. In the morning the veterans were nostalgically sent off with the Andrews- Sisters-style music of the Legacy Girls. After arriving in Washington, the veterans toured the Lincoln Monument, the newly-constructed WWII memorial, the Korean memorial, the Viet Nam memorial, the Iwo Jima Memorial and the Udvar Hazy National Air and Space Museum. And now at the end of their day a brass band played all the patriot songs while scads of volunteers donned in orange shirts passed out American flags to the friends and families who stood behind parade route guide ropes in Chicago Midway Airport Baggage Claim area. The bright faced, highly enthusiastic and helpful volunteers informed us of what the veterans in their 80’s and 90’s had experienced during the day and our role in welcoming them home. The spirit of the crowd was high. It didn’t take much imagination to put myself back at the end of WWII and be a grateful, relieved, joy-filled spectator at a “Welcome home, soldier” parade. In Midway Airport the anticipation was growing and when the bagpipes began, we knew the first veterans were headed to the start of the procession. When we saw them we were almost hushed with awe. Unlike 70 years ago, these were not young men and women, but people who had lived their lives and for many a wheel chair or an oxygen tank were their constant companion. However, I only saw one veteran break through the line of spectators to get to the restroom.
The volunteers led the way for us by reaching out to shake the gnarled hands of these freedom fighters while, saying, “Thank you for your service.” It didn’t take long for us to get into the groove.
My dad was one of the first ones to emerge and one of the few that walked the distance. He stopped along the parade route to give mom a kiss and then continued responding to the flag-waving crowds. He worked it like he was going down the aisles on Sunday mornings greeting people. He didn’t pass up a kid and even stooped to talk to many of them. Each veteran had a U.S. Sailor to push his wheel chair or carry his accumulated paraphernalia from the day. Dad’s navy escort was attentive to his every move and ready to catch this elderly man if he started to fall. I caught her grin as Dad displayed more energy than she might have anticipated from him.
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WHAT THEY ACHIEVED
June 6, 2014, marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the operation that began the Allied invasion of German-occupied Western Europe,ultimately leading to an Allied victory in WWII. Revisiting the details of this phenomenal event, again, served to remind me of the incredible accomplishments of the Greatest Generation, especially their gaining that victory in the face of overwhelmingly impossible odds. This led me to consider how we are doing with the priceless legacy we have been entrusted with through that generation’s victory and beyond that, to consider what lessons remain for us in their accomplishments that could lead to our gaining victory over today’s issues that may seem just as overwhelmingly impossible.
During the 70th anniversary celebration of D-Day, I read an awe-inspiring story entitled 93-year-old WWII Vet to Parachute into Normandy – Again. This was the story of Jim Martin who, as a private in the 101st Airborne, was one of the paratroopers dropped behind German lines in the hours before the D-Day landings. Jim determined that, to honor the 70th anniversary of D-Day, he would go back to Normandy, to parachute onto the same soil he touched seven decades before and he did just that. Reading Jim’s story provided reminders for me about the unique qualities of his generation and that brought illumination to my considering the application of those qualities in resolving the most significant challenges facing us today. Continue reading