I have had a growing thought that the generation of our grandfathers, what Tom Brokaw calls “The Greatest Generation,” really had it together in so many ways. They have so many admirable traits and characteristics, some of which I list below. This book starts with an overview of the generation — how most were young children during the depression, fought in World War II, and then came home to very successful careers, lives, and marriages, how they built a tremendous society and economic powerhouse, etc. It then has a series of short essays about particular people from that generation, some you have never heard of, and some famous.
Some words and phrases that describe the people of “The Greatest Generation:”
- personal responsibility (one we truly lack today)
- strong worth ethic
- self sufficient/reliant
- family values
- commitment to marriage (NOT “let’s see how this works out”)
- sense of duty to country/patriotism
- “life is precious”
- delayed gratification rather than a need to “have everything now”
- strong sense of gratitude (my favorite!)
- pride in what they accomplished, but with quiet humility
- “Those of us who lived have to represent those of us who did not.”
Their thoughts on today’s generation(s):
- Today’s generation –> We don’t appreciate things because we don’t have to work for them.
- Baby boomers –> came of age when excess, not deprivation, was the rule
- Too many people want others to take care of their kids
Of course not everything was good, and one regret that many had was that they spent too much time at work and not enough time with family.
A very good read in my opinion, and I hope that somehow our generation (and the one that is following) could pull together and be as strong as the Greatest Generation was, if we had to be. I sometimes regret that I have never had to be truly tested, but maybe that is why I enjoy “extreme” sports like adventure racing, orienteering, mountaineering, etc., and why I enjoy digging into the classics — even those that are a struggle to read and understand.