I’ve been reading Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation. I picked it up at the library a few weeks ago; some subversive librarian must have put it out on the ‘interesting reads’ table in anticipation of Memorial Day. I checked it out expecting a a history of WWII, but the book is more a collection of profiles of the people who fought in that war. It’s about their lives and how they served both on and off the battlefield. It’s about who they were before the war and who they became after the war ended.
I’m only about a short ways in to the book, but I can’t help but be touched by the modesty and patriotism of the people Brokaw writes about. And I can’t help but draw comparisons between these unassuming Americans and the men running our country today.
I watched Donald Rumsfeld address the graduating class of West Point and I wondered how he got the nerve to stand up in front of them. I watched the President dedicate the new WWII memorial and I wondered the same thing. Today, as the President heads out to Europe to engage in coalition building and mark the anniversary of D-Day I wonder how he’ll hold his head up as he stands on the beach at Normandy. And I wonder how the soldiers of the past, present, and future will vote.
Colin Powell. Bob Dole. John McCain. These are Republicans who (in my mind) get to address the troops. Regardless of how you feel about their politics, they are men who know what it means to be a soldier.
Anyway, it’s a few years old and there are many other fine reads, but The Greatest Generation is worth leaving on the coffee table for a while. Especially during these war memorial days.