"Greatest Generation?"

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by gilberte, Jun 18, 2005.

  1. gilberte

    gilberte Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I've been watching the, "Into the West" series on television and it got me to thinking (does anyone percieve a burning smell?). Folks who lived during, and served in World War II have become known as, "The Greatest Generation."

    Now I don't want to belittle the sacrifices and contributions of these fine folks, I have a great deal of respect for them, but what about those people who sacrificed everything to settle this country in the first place? Imagine leaving whatever security you had to cross an ocean to scratch and fight for your life here and to eke out an existence in an unknown, hostile, wilderness. Who deserves the title, "The Greatest Generation?"

    I will say that the WWII generation has been, IMHO, the last noble people, as a whole, and we have been going to **** in a handbasket ever since.
     
  2. NWSneaky

    NWSneaky Well-Known Member

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    Very tough question. Thanks for thinking. I believe it was Plato who centuries ago complained in writing of the horrible state of today's (his)
    youth. Who knows.
     

  3. mysticokra

    mysticokra Well-Known Member

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    The filters for viewing greatness are usually established by the surviving culture.
    The native Americans would have perceived us as invading barbarians with no sense of morality or respect for the creator. Harly credentials for greatness.

    Those who settled the West thought it was their manifest destiny.
    Hilter thought the same thing about his land grab until the latest "greatest generation" stopped him.

    If what your question is seeking is a basis for appreciating human sacrfice for the common good, then my vote goes to non-violent civil rights activist of the 1950's and 1960's.
     
  4. copperhead51

    copperhead51 Well-Known Member

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    We could at least given the WWII generation the credit for creating the "greatest" experiment in socializism ever? I don't know where they come off calling themselves the greatest generation ever.
     
  5. Nax

    Nax Well-Known Member

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    I don't think the greatest generation people call themselves the greatest generation. I think it was Tom Brokaw who gave them that moniker, and it certainly made him a lot of money. It's become quite an industry. Whenever I go to my small public library, if I'm not in the mood to read about WWII and how great it all was and how great we all were, I'm kind of out of luck. :)

    Every generation has its good people and bad people. The greatest generation, while voting through the civil rights acts, were also the ones turning the firehoses on the peaceful demonstrators, lynching people, and standing in the the doorways blocking the entry of students.

    I don't think there is a "greatest" generation, or a worst. There are just people caught up in their time and place and trying to make the best of it.
     
  6. to live free

    to live free Well-Known Member

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    blame the baby boomers and their idealistic be kinda to everyone love everybody bla bla
     
  7. vegascowgirl

    vegascowgirl Try Me

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    I have to agree that I wouldn't call any generation the greatest. Much like I would not call any single american the greatest (another show lately-- on Discovery channel I think)

    Where I am always very interested in the time period that "Into the West" is portraying..I can not say that I am proud of everything that happened at that time. Like the fact that they were so selfish as to believe that the land belonged to them only, and the Native Americans were nothing more than pests in their way. To the point that they took the Native american land, their languages, and their culture...and many many times, their lives.

    The Civil War wasn't exactly a bright spot in our history either.
    Nor was the way that many immigrants (esp. Irish and Italian) were treated in places such as New York or Pittsburgh....many were treated as bad as some slaves at that time. Orphans were many times sold into slavery or prostitution (ever heard of orphan wagons/trains) .

    As has been stated, there is good and bad in every generation. We just seem to glorify the good, and sweep the bad under the carpet.
     
  8. Hoop

    Hoop Well-Known Member

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    Unlike the political wars of today and the last several decades, WWII was a war in which they were playing for keeps.
    Real wars with real threats. Total war.....of which the outcome was unknown.
    The average citizenry sacrificed gasoline, metals, etc so that these materials could be used in the war effort. The national past time of baseball was canceled during WWII. Civilian automobile production during WWII was nonexistent.

    There is little doubt that the political wars of today carry the same threat posed by Nazi Germany and the Imperial Japanese. Lets face it, we have 20,000 or so nuclear weapons standing by......just in case.

    We have been innundated with phrases such as "the war on drugs", "the war on poverty" and the "war on terror" to the point where the word war has been watered down.

    I don't know if the powers that be consider us to still be "at war". Unquestionably, some of our citizens are making the ultimate sacrifice. This is a very very small percentage of the population.
    People are going about their business as if no war were taking place. Golf courses remain a beehive of activity. China Mart parking lots are filled with consumer driven customers. Strip clubs have filled parking lots.

    Until we are again faced with a REAL THREAT such as Nazi Germany/Imperial Japan, the people that endured WWII will forever be known as "The Greatest Generation".
     
  9. vegascowgirl

    vegascowgirl Try Me

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    I get where you are coming from, but I respectfully disagree. I'm sure there are many Asian Americans who would point out that this same "great generation" felt no remorse in opening concentration camps of their own.
     
  10. Running Wild

    Running Wild Well-Known Member

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    Here's some food for thought. Here's an article recently written by James Webb, the Former Secretary of the Navy. Webb was also awarded the Navy Cross, Silver Star, and Bronze Star medals for heroism as a Marine in Vietnam. His novels include The Emperor’s General and Fields of Fire.

    Heroes of the Vietnam Generation

    By James Webb

    The rapidly disappearing cohort of Americans that endured the Great Depression and then fought World War II is receiving quite a send-off from the leading lights of the so-called 60s generation. Tom Brokaw has published two oral histories of “The Greatest Generation” that feature ordinary people doing their duty and suggest that such conduct was historically unique.

    Chris Matthews of “Hardball” is fond of writing columns praising the Navy service of his father while castigating his own baby boomer generation for its alleged softness and lack of struggle. William Bennett gave a startling condescending speech at the Naval Academy a few years ago comparing the heroism of the “D-Day Generation” to the drugs-and-sex nihilism of the “Woodstock Generation.” And Steven Spielberg, in promoting his film “Saving Private Ryan,” was careful to justify his portrayals of soldiers in action based on the supposedly unique nature of World War II.

    An irony is at work here. Lest we forget, the World War II generation now being lionized also brought us the Vietnam War, a conflict which today’s most conspicuous voices by and large opposed, and in which few of them served. The “best an brightest” of the Vietnam age group once made headlines by castigating their parents for bringing about the war in which they would not fight, which as become the war they refuse to remember.

    Pundits back then invented a term for this animus: the “generation gap.” Long, plaintive articles and even books were written examining its manifestations. Campus leaders, who claimed precocious wisdom through the magical process of reading a few controversial books, urged fellow baby boomers not to trust anyone over 30. Their elders who had survived the Depression and fought the largest war in history were looked down upon as shallow, materialistic, and out of touch.

    Those of us who grew up, on the other side of the picket line from that era’s counter-culture can’t help but feel a little leery of this sudden gush of appreciation for our elders from the leading lights of the old counter-culture. Then and now, the national conversation has proceeded from the dubious assumption that those who came of age during Vietnam are a unified generation in the same sense as their parents were, and thus are capable of being spoken for through these fickle elites.

    In truth, the “Vietnam generation” is a misnomer. Those who came of age during that war are permanently divided by different reactions to a whole range of counter-cultural agendas, and nothing divides them more deeply than the personal ramifications of the war itself. The sizable portion of the Vietnam age group who declined to support the counter-cultural agenda, and especially the men and women who opted to serve in the military during the Vietnam War, are quite different from their peers who for decades have claimed to speak for them. In fact, they are much like the World War II generation itself. For them, Woodstock was a side show, college protestors were spoiled brats who would have benefited from having to work a few jobs in order to pay their tuition, and Vietnam represented not an intellectual exercise in draft avoidance, or protest marches but a battlefield that was just as brutal as those their fathers faced in World War II and Korea.

    Few who served during Vietnam ever complained of a generation gap. The men who fought World War II were their heroes and role models. They honored their father’s service by emulating it, and largely agreed with their father’s wisdom in attempting to stop Communism’s reach in Southeast Asia.

    The most accurate poll of their attitudes (Harris, 1980) showed that 91 percent were glad they’d served their country, 74 percent enjoyed their time in the service, and 89 percent agreed with the statement that “our troops were asked to fight in a war which our political leaders in Washington would not let them win.” And most importantly, the castigation they received upon returning home was not from the World War II generation, but from the very elites in their age group who supposedly spoke for them.

    Nine million men served in the military during Vietnam War, three million of whom went to the Vietnam Theater. Contrary to popular mythology, two-thirds of these were volunteers, and 73 percent of those who died were volunteers. While some attention has been paid recently to the plight of our prisoners of war, most of whom were pilots; there has been little recognition of how brutal the war was for those who fought it on the ground.

    Dropped onto the enemy’s terrain 12,000 miles away from home, America’s citizen-soldiers performed with a tenacity and quality that may never be truly understood. Those who believe the war was fought incompletely on a tactical level should consider Hanoi’s recent admission that 1.4 million of its soldiers died on the battlefield, compared to 58,000 total U.S. dead.

    Those who believe that it was a “dirty little war” where the bombs did all the work might contemplate that is was the most costly war the U.S. Marine Corps has ever fought-five times as many dead as World War I, three times as many dead as in Korea, and more total killed and wounded than in all of World War II.

    Significantly, these sacrifices were being made at a time the United States was deeply divided over our effort in Vietnam. The baby-boom generation had cracked apart along class lines as America’s young men were making difficult, life-or-death choices about serving. The better academic institutions became focal points for vitriolic protest against the war, with few of their graduates going into the military. Harvard College, which had lost 691 alumni in World War II, lost a total of 12 men in Vietnam from the classes of 1962 through 1972 combined. Those classes at Princeton lost six, at MIT two. The media turned ever more hostile. And frequently the reward for a young man’s having gone through the trauma of combat was to be greeted by his peers with studied indifference of outright hostility.

    What is a hero? My heroes are the young men who faced the issues of war and possible death, and then weighed those concerns against obligations to their country. Citizen-soldiers who interrupted their personal and professional lives at their most formative stage, in the timeless phrase of the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery, “not for fame of reward, not for place of for rank, but in simple obedience to duty, as they understood it.” Who suffered loneliness, disease, and wounds with an often-contagious élan. And who deserve a far better place in history than that now offered them by the so-called spokesman of our so-called generation.

    Mr. Brokaw, Mr. Matthews, Mr. Bennett, Mr. Spielberg, meet my Marines. 1969 was an odd year to be in Vietnam. Second only to 1968 in terms of American casualties, it was the year made famous by Hamburger Hill, as well as the gut-wrenching Life cover story showing pictures of 242 Americans who had been killed in one average week of fighting. Back home, it was the year of Woodstock, and of numerous anti-war rallies that culminated in the Moratorium march on Washington. The My Lai massacre hit the papers and was seized upon the anti-war movement as the emblematic moment of the war. Lyndon Johnson left Washington in utter humiliation.

    Richard Nixon entered the scene, destined for an even worse fate. In the An Hoa Basin southwest of Danang, the Fifth Marine Regiment was in its third year of continuous combat operations. Combat is an unpredictable and inexact environment, but we were well led. As a rifle platoon and company commander, I served under a succession of three regimental commanders who had cut their teeth in World War II, and four different battalion commanders, three of whom had seen combat in Korea. The company commanders were typically captains on their second combat tour in Vietnam, or young first lieutenants like myself who were given companies after many months of “bush time” as platoon commanders in he Basin’s tough and unforgiving environs.

    (con't)
     
  11. Running Wild

    Running Wild Well-Known Member

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    The Basin was one of the most heavily contested areas in Vietnam, its torn, cratered earth offering every sort of wartime possibility. In the mountains just to the west, not far from the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the North Vietnamese Army operated an infantry division from an area called Base Area 112. In the valleys of the Basin, main-force Viet Cong battalions whose ranks were 80 percent North Vietnamese Army regulars moved against the Americans every day. Local Viet Cong units sniped and harassed. Ridgelines and paddy dikes were laced with sophisticated booby traps of every size, from a hand grenade to a 250-pound bomb. The villages sat in the rice paddies and tree lines like individual fortresses, crisscrossed with the trenches and spider holes, their homes sporting bunkers capable of surviving direct hits from large-caliber artillery shells. The Viet Cong infrastructure was intricate and permeating. Except for the old and the very young, villagers who did not side with the Communists had either been killed or driven out to the government controlled enclaves near Danang.

    In the rifle companies, we spent the endless months patrolling ridgelines and villages and mountains, far away from any notion of tents, barbed wire, hot food, or electricity. Luxuries were limited to what would fit inside one’s pack, which after a few “humps” usually boiled down to letter-writing material, towel, soap, toothbrush, poncho liner, and a small transistor radio.

    We moved through the boiling heat with 60 pounds of weapons and gear, causing a typical Marine to drop 20 percent of his body weight while in the bush. When we stopped we dug chest-deep fighting holes and slit trenches for toilets. We slept on the ground under makeshift poncho hootches, and when it rained we usually took our hootches down because wet ponchos shined under illumination flares, making great targets. Sleep itself was fitful, never more than an hour or two at a stretch for months at a time as we mixed daytime patrolling with night-time ambushes, listening posts, foxhole duty, and radio watches. Ringworm, hookworm, malaria, and dysentery were common, as was trench foot when the monsoons came. Respite was rotating back to the mud-filled regimental combat base at An Hoa for four or five days, where rocket and mortar attacks were frequent and our troops manned defensive bunkers at night. Which makes it kind of hard to get excited about tales of Woodstock, or camping at the Vineyard during summer break.

    We had been told while training that Marine officers in the rifle companies had an 85 percent probability of being killed or wounded, and the experience of “Dying Delta,” as our company was known, bore that out. Of the officers in the bush when I arrived, our company commander was wounded, the weapons platoon commander wounded, the first platoon commander was killed, the second platoon commander was wounded twice, and I, commanding the third platoons fared no better. Two of my original three-squad leaders were killed, and the third shot in the stomach. My platoon sergeant was severely wounded, as was my right guide. By the time I left, my platoon I had gone through six radio operators, five of them casualties.

    These figures were hardly unique; in fact, they were typical. Many other units; for instance, those who fought the hill battles around Khe Sanh, or were with the famed Walking Dead of the Ninth Marine Regiment, or were in the battle of Hue City or at Dai Do, had it far worse.

    When I remember those days and the very young men who spent them with me, I am continually amazed, for these were mostly recent civilians barley out of high school, called up from the cities and the farms to do their year in hell and he return. Visions haunt me every day, not of the nightmares of war but of the steady consistency with which my Marines faced their responsibilities, and of how uncomplaining most of them were in the face of constant danger. The salty, battle-hardened 20-year-olds teaching green 19-year-olds the intricate lessons of the hostile battlefield. The unerring skill of the young squad leaders as we moved through unfamiliar villages and weed-choked trails in the black of night. The quick certainty when a fellow Marine was wounded and needed help. Their willingness to risk their lives to save other Marines in peril. To this day it stuns me that their own countrymen have so completely missed the story of their service, lost in the bitter confusion of the war itself.

    Like every military unit throughout history we had occasional laggards, cowards, and complainers. But in the aggregate, these Marines were the finest people I have ever been around. It has been my privilege to keep up with many of them over the years since we all came home. One finds in them very little bitterness about the war in which they fought. The most common regret, almost to a man, is that they were not able to do more for each other and for the people they came to help.

    It would be redundant to say that I would trust my life to these men. Because I already have, in more ways than I can ever recount. I am alive today because of their quiet, unaffected heroism, such valor epitomizes the conduct of Americans at war from the first days of our existence. That the conduct of Americans at war from the first days of our existence. That the boomer elites can canonize this sort of conduct in our fathers generation conscious, continuing travesty.

    Semper Fidelis.
     
  12. Ann-NWIowa

    Ann-NWIowa Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My grandfather said that his generation went from horse and buggy to the moon. That no generation in history has seen so much or been responsible for so much progress.

    No war is good. Some wars are necessary. I believe WWII was necessary. I have serious doubts about the necessity of all wars since that time. In attempting to be the world's savior we have become the most hated nation on earth.

    Arguing which generation is the "greatest" is an argument that will never be answered. However, I think its safe to say that no generation since WWII could step forward to claim that title.
     
  13. Quint

    Quint Well-Known Member

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    Nor should they feel any remorse.

    Equating the relocation of Japanese from strategic areas of the west coast to Nazi death camps is really beyond sickening. Either you are ignorant of history or simply ignorant.
     
  14. oz in SC

    oz in SC Well-Known Member

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    IF you study the issue of internment of Japanese in this nation you discover that there WERE quite a few supporters of Imperial Japan amongst them...

    Also no mention of the Italians and Germans who were interned??

    TO me those who settled the west WERE basically on their own and doing it with little or no government aid...quite amazing what was accomplished.

    I find the revisionism of US history a bit odd,to judge american settlers by todays standards seems strange,and odd that the Indians are not similarly judged...
     
  15. Jan Doling

    Jan Doling Well-Known Member

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    It is a comparison of apples to oranges. The pioneers blazed the trail, but the WWII generation saved future generations from having to speak German or Japanese. One group established what we love today; the other group preserved it for us.
     
  16. vegascowgirl

    vegascowgirl Try Me

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    Sorry that you feel that way Quint. May the Lord bless you in all you do.
     
  17. Nax

    Nax Well-Known Member

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    Warum nicht Deutsch? Viele Leute spricht Deutsch. Deutsch ist eine gute Sprache. Sehr Wissenschaftlich. :haha:

    (If anyone out there is REALLY good at German, forgive me. :p )

    Many, many, many of those pioneers blazing that trail West spoke German. I know, it's not the language itself you're objecting to, but the fascism of the Germans. yust a little yoke.