Today’s STUP topic revolves around the premise that if you don’t know where you have come from, the odds are where you’re headed involves a more diffused process and happenstance outcome. I mentored college students for 15 years, one of my first pieces of advice get to know your grandparents and great grandparents if you are so lucky (the second was go mentor someone younger). Thursday was the 75th anniversary of D-Day and how our country was at the core of defeating Nazi Germany, essentially creating the freedom we know today.
It was one of the most courageous military actions ever executed by our country and allies. Without the outcomes on the beaches of Normandy we might be sprechen sie deutsch. The invasion cost thousands of American/Allied lives on day one. It was the genesis of the march towards Berlin and fall of Hitler. Many critics have accused the USA of being imperialistic. The only plot of land requested from this mission is on the bluffs of Omaha beach where over 9,000 are buried and 1500+ missing are memorialized. Can you name another country coming to the rescue of allies in this magnitude at any other point in history? I exhausted Google in the search.
What I find disheartening is I the lack of knowledge amongst our adults younger than forty years of age. I asked several of them this past week what they knew about the event, some got that it happened, few got the magnitude. One response was “Omaha Beach, I thought Nebraska was land locked?” I think he was kidding? The bulk of those landing on the beach were 18 and 19 years old.
This Greatest Generation literally saved the world from a clear axis of evil on both sides of the globe. Nearly half a generation of our best were lost in the endeavor. The actions of men like FDR, Eisenhower, MacArthur, and others will be etched in the all time Hall of Fame for courage, leadership, and accountability.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”1410″ alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]Not knowing even the cursory aspects of this era by so many puts our country in a lesser light. To be unaware of how important these events were in shaping the character of our country and its direction is a mistake. The pride, confidence, and patriotism instilled into and by this generation led to one of the most productive economic engines Earth has ever known. From the Man on the Moon to the internet, it all emanated from this generation. And remember these men and women grew up in a Depression. How’s that for context?
I am concerned about the style of leadership evolving from our current young adults. Challenging rites of passage have morphed into safe spaces and impactful generational clans have been diffused by isolating addictions to digital devices. Many young adults I speak with feel understanding where they came from is not important and/or worth the energy. Unfortunately I find many Baby Boomers with a similar take. These clearly not personal shots or griping, but my view of the playing field.
An upcoming missive will address how every previous Super Power has become not a Super Power. Hence we will eventually become not a Super Power and sooner than I initially anticipated. The lack of connecting to where we came from will contribute to this slippery slope. Call one of your clan’s elders, preferably a vet, soon and dig deeper.
PS – Trump’s speech Thursday was easily the most moving of his Presidency. I watched the ABC edition of it live and even commentators, who usually despise the man, acknowledged his graciousness. Little lengthy (27 min) so if you don’t have time watch his accounting of Russell Pickett at the 12 minute mark.
Final Thought –
“I don’t feel that I’m any kind of hero. To me, the work had to be done. I was asked to do it. So I did. When I lecture kids I tell them the same thing.”
–Private First Class Joe Lesniewski