Our humble beginnings.
It was a time of prosperity and growth. Our nation and the world was just emerging from the Great Depression – spirits were high, and with the aging generation still remembering the effects of WWI, our nation adopted a attitude of separatism. The Green-Acres mentality was just as original as a Coca-Cola billboard painted on the side of a brick front country store. Even though the powder keg of a great battle loomed on the horizon as the evil axis powers of Germany digested its surrounding nations without much resistance, life was simple.
That positivism was shattered after Pearl Harbor and America’s Second World War effort began. Every physically able male of age was sent off to the army, navy or marines. The women left behind went to the factories – some became nurses and deployed with their service men. Every aspect of American life was devoted to the war effort. All materials were being used for the war: food, clothing, petrol, leather and many luxuries were rationed.
Have you notice how many times I used the phrase "war effort"? This is because it was the primary concern of that era, and that is all that people would hear during those times. Hollywood devoted their films to aiding in the morale of the troops, and the actors who stayed off the front lines were still staunch in their efforts to the cause. The media supported the effort; families of fallen servicemen kept information about their loss secret in additional service to the country. The slogan "Loose lips, Sink ships" was found on propaganda posters all over the nation.
Why were they so determined and strong?
The "greatest generation" was in the opinion of many just that. My grandfather, a personal hero, was of that generation. From as far back as I can remember, he talked about the "Great War." He would show me his medals and badges and tell stories about his "Band of Brothers."
His generation was coming out of one of the most devastating economic depressions known. Everyone had to fight and sacrifice for the necessities of life. Many went without shelter or food, and those that had enough to survive were grateful for everything they had. My grandfather’s generation knew what it was like to be without and were grateful for everything.
These men were thrust into the war, and still were willing to fight for what they believed in. The nation rallied in their support, not just because of patriotism, but because it was the same generation that lost everything during the depression, and they would not allow that to happen again.
Where are we today?
Today we are a generation of entitlement. We act on the same impulses as the seagulls from Disney’s Finding Nemo. We all cry out, "Mine, mine, mine, mine," unwilling to sacrifice and protect the very constitution that protects and fortifies us.
This is an obvious generalization because there are plenty who are diligent and don’t see themselves as entitled just because they breathe air. But on a whole, our generation cries out for their freedom of speech, getting that financial aid, Medicare, and everything else this great nation provides us; yet if asked upon, are unwilling to stand up and defend it to secure those entitlements.
These rights we enjoy today can be taken from us if every single American is not willing to stand up, put on a uniform, take up a sign in protest, or even go to the voting booth. The freedoms that my grandfather and his grandfather’s grandfather (all the way to Independence Hall) fought for could soon be gone.
Freedom is a fight. The great president Thomas Jefferson and the author of the Declaration of Independence once said, "From time to time, the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots."