The Greatest Generation

Posted on 05/28/2004 in misc

I wandered over to the new World War II Memorial on my lunch hour today. As a physical structure, I can take it or leave it. I'm not sure it really captures the essence of The Greatest Generation. (No pics - it was a spur of the moment thing). But I don't really have any suggestions as to what they should have done differently, so maybe it is just me. The black marble and names of the Vietnam Memorial really hits you in the gut; you feel the senseless loss of life that 'Nam ultimately became. The WWII memorial didn't really evoke any emotion. The wall of stars - with 1 star for each 100,000 killed, is under whelming. The entire country sacrificed for WWII. The people here at home had to deal with food rations and all kinds of hardships. (Speaking of food rations, I've got some WWII food ration coupons at home that I need to scan and put on the web). I don't think the memorial as a physical structure captures either the essence of the sacrifice or the ultimate victory that WWII represented.

That said, being in the presence of several thousand WWII vets was a very humbling experience. These men, many of whom can barely walk today, answered the call of duty like no generation since. They stormed the cliffs of Normandy, conquered the Pacific island by miserable island, incurring massive casualties all the way, but never once slowing down or turning back. They kept going until the world was safe for freedom again. I looked for somebody wearing a USS Santee hat. My grandfather served on that ship, surviving a kamikaze attack in the Pacific. Standing there in the sun next to these men, I felt very insignificant.

That is probably as it should be.

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