A couple of weeks ago my son and I were studying World War II. We read some really great books highlighting the courage and bravery of many men and women of that generation. As I think about their attitude of self-sacrifice, financial struggles, and commitment to freedom, I believe they were aptly named, “The Greatest Generation.” My grandparents were part of that elite group and the stories they told about their life as young adults were truly inspiring. “All gave some; some gave all”, is a wonderful summation of that time and generation.
I was interested to see where that quote originated, so of course, I “Googled-it”. Much to my disappointment, most people said, “Billy Ray Cyrus”. Really? Honestly, I didn’t even know he had a song with that title and however well meaning and true the lyrics may be…I’m pretty sure he did NOT coin that phrase.
My point is not to condemn a song writer for using a phrase. I’m sure it’s a very patriotic and moving song, and for that I commend him. My point is, we have a generation (for the most part) that really understands very little about history and the high cost of freedom.
When we completed our study of WW II, we moved on to the Cold War Era, including a study on the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Things were VERY different. Our service men were still willing to defend freedom not only here but abroad. Our culture however, was divided. Soldiers returning home from Vietnam experienced things no other American soldiers ever had….a fraction of the people who “welcomed” them not with open arms, but instead with jeers, insults and protests. How ironic, to be greeted by people exercising the very rights and privileges these men had risked and some given their lives to protect.
One of the assignments for this unit in our curriculum recommends interviewing a veteran of Korea or Vietnam. When my girls studied this I had them interview my dad, who was in Vietnam. With my son, I decided to forgo this interview. Like most men that were there, my dad doesn’t talk about it much and emotions run deep. It just didn’t seem worth dredging up those memories.
Next week we move on to recent history where we will talk about 9-11 and the conflicts in the Middle East. My son was only two months old when it began. He doesn’t even realize our country has been “at war” practically all his life. In some regards I’m thankful for his “ignorance” but I also want him to grow up realizing, nothing in life is free…someone has paid a price. The freedoms he enjoys and takes for granted HAVE NOT been free. Over the last two hundred plus years, hundreds of thousands (if not more) men and women have paid dearly for these freedoms.
What is my point in all this?
I began to ask that myself as I wrote and rambled through these thoughts in my head. I think I just want to say…
As you enjoy your day off cooking out, relaxing with friends and family, and anticipating the beginning of summer, please take time to remember those who have given their lives to allow you this privilege.
Happy Memorial Day!