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I glanced at my AARP Bulletin today and saw an article on the first baby boomer, who is applying for social security early (at age 62, on January 1, 2008). A bit later I saw a blurb that said Tom Brokaw is challenging us all to emulate the "Greatest Generation" by sacrificing more for the common good.

I have no argument with sacrificing for the common good. I do have an argument with that "greatest generation" crap. This country went to war with JAPAN, folks, not because of the horrors that Hitler was visiting upon the Jews, even though we knew about it. We didn't want to become involved. In fact, we didn't even allow many Jews into this country, those who were fleeing the death chambers (look at immigration records and laws from that time). Finally we did get involved, and because our forces were fresh and our country was not itself invaded (Hawaii was not a state yet) we were able to bring the war to an end. Don't get me started on the bomb.

My parents were both clearly of that generation. Like probably most others, they honestly used their ration cards, did what they could, with the occasional move into shadier corners to get a bit more butter or maybe a steak. My mother worked for the Red Cross as a volunteer, my father designed barracks (I am not sure if it was barracks) for the army.

Would we have acted differently? I don't think so.

It disturbs me that people get together, work together, more often against something than for something. It's easy to bring us together to fight a common enemy. It's far more difficult to fight for a common good. Thus, working together to defeat a clearly insane enemy, Hitler in particular, can't have been that difficult. What we face today is more insidious: an enemy who pretends to be leading us, protecting us from evil, while supporting actions we used to condemn in others. The "uniter" is the greatest divider we've ever known. How can we compare generations under these circumstances?


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 9th, 2007 03:03 am (UTC)
I think you make valid points (my parents are of the same generation as yours). However, Brokaw may have been trying to make a point about the apathy he perceives about the current U.S. society.

He may be reacting to how the citizen has been almost completely transformed into nothing more functional than a consumer, and he probably isn't real crazy about it.

Nor am I.

I did meditate about the Pearl Harbor anniversary, though. FDR may likely have known shortly in advance--it's academic now, but Japan was in the Axis with the Third Reich and Italy, and it was known that a declaration of war against Japan would involve the rest of the Axis. If the Japanese hadn't committed that attack and if the U.S. hadn't gotten involved in the conflict, I wonder if I would even be around for this discussion today?

Or you, either, for that matter.

That is not to say you're wrong--not at all--I'm just considering from whence Brokaw comes. Just remember--he has another book out, I believe. *g*
Dec. 9th, 2007 04:27 am (UTC)
Oh, I know what Brokaw was saying. And of course there is little doubt that much of this country has become essentially drugged. Not "available". I don't think the people themselves are fundamentally different. They are facing different challenges. And they come to those challenges differently equipped. You'd probably agree, yes.

It's pretty common knowledge that the attack on Pearl Harbor was in fact known ahead. It should be more commonly known that we did not help Jews escape or welcome them into this country. We should seriously be ashamed of ourselves. And that's what Brokaw calls the greatest generation. To me it's more a matter of selective memory.
Dec. 9th, 2007 01:12 pm (UTC)
I have read that though the messages concerning Pearl Harbor were intercepted before the attack, they weren't translated promptly. The translators were a few weeks behind on the messages because they didn't have enough people. Not that it matters much in retrospect, but it probably was more of a mistake than a sinister cover-up. Also, though they were nowhere near the scale of Hitler, the Japanese killed plenty of innocents on their pillage of Asia, and they also set into motion a chain of events that included Chairman Mao and Kim Jong Il. There were plenty of reasons besides Pearl Harbor to go to war with them.
Though in their favor, Japan did harbor a small number of Jews.
Dec. 9th, 2007 02:46 pm (UTC)
I have read a number of versions of what messages were read and which were not, and I have also read that Japan surrendered before we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. I do hope the truth about these issues comes out sometime, the real evidence. I am also aware that the axis nations were far more dangerous to us than Iraq ever could be.

But my comments were not about whether it was right for us to enter WWII. My comments were about the characterization of the population then as the "greatest generation".
Dec. 10th, 2007 01:30 am (UTC)
Did you ever hear about the Evian conference? That took place around the end of July in 1938. A bunch of Allied nations, including the U.S. got together to figure out how many Jewish refugees from the Reich each of the attending nations would be able to take. Believe it or not (of course I know you'll believe it), Honduras was the most openly generous of all the nations, offering to take any Jewish refugees from the Nazis who would present themselves there.


Meanwhile, the U.S. accepted responsibility for far fewer refugees than tiny Honduras.
Dec. 10th, 2007 03:01 pm (UTC)
I had not heard of the conference specifically. But I remember hearing (in some museum, I think) of the small number of refugees we were willing to accept. I suspect this was one of those "political" decisions. Don't want to rock the boat, scare anyone with all those Jews...

If only politicians acted truly on the basis of what they know will be the honorable and right thing, rather than the one that will keep everything the same. If only they would act as if they do not care if they get booted out of office.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


Judith Lautner
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