“This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.”
–Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Tom Brokaw defined this generation in his book, The Greatest Generation. This generation of Americans weathered the Great Depression. Then they headed off to World War II or manned the factories and war effort at home. They returned from abroad to start their lives, their families, and create the America that we know today. Lives were lost or put on hold, to sacrifice for the greater good. All of this done without a request for fame, fanfare, or credit. A quiet resilience, we haven’t seen since.
I have committed to going back and blogging sessions from last year. I had the honor of documenting the military memorial services of a dear friend’s grandfather last August. He was celebrated with full military honors at Ft. Logan National Cemetery in Denver. To say it was emotional is an understatement. His entire family was there to honor his life, his legacy, and his service to our country.
A veteran of WWII, he was in the U.S. Army 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team serving in the South Pacific in seven campaigns between 1943-45 in New Guinea and the Philippines as a combat paratrooper. Wounded on three occasions he was awarded two Bronze Star medals for valor, a Purple Heart medal with two clusters, and the Presidential Unit Citation. Later in life he was responsible for raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in women’s athletic scholarship funds at Central Arizona College. His ceremony was without a casket, as in true Greatest Generation form he donated his body to the University of Arizona Medical School.
The memorial was fitting – surrounded by family, a perfect summer day, and with all the traditions that honor our Veteran’s.
After the service the family gathered to celebrate his life and legacy. It was a joyous gathering filled with tears, smiles, and stories.
I had remembered my friend saying her grandmother just hadn’t been the same since his death. A few months later her grandmother also passed away. I tear up just thinking about it. To know they were partners in life, but not to be apart for long. I had similar emotions when I flew on a B-17 Bomber like the one my grandfather flew in WWII. We are slowly losing the Greatest Generation. The ones we should be thanking for providing us with the blessings we enjoy today.
To all our military service men and women around the world – thank you for your sacrifice and service to our country. To the spouses and families of our military service – thank you for lending us your loved ones. To the Greatest Generation – thank you for the life in the Unites States we enjoy today. Happy Memorial Day!