cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
65 years ago I was a small child unaware of the sacrifices that were being made that would permit me to grow and live in a free country. Today is the 65th anniversary of "D-Day"; the day that our allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy under withering fire from the well dug-in enemy. There were women in uniform close on their heels working as nurses and pilots but not being committed to combat roles.
That was a time when our enemies were easily separated from our friends. We were a proud nation and we were committed to helping our friends battle for their continued freedom. Our soldiers and sailors and airmen were fighting a global war. Men from Wisconsin's 32nd Division were spending more than a full year under combat without a day of relief on the islands of the Pacific fighting against the men from the country of Japan.
We had finally entered the war against Germany and its allies and we had mobilized on a "war footing" so that almost the entire energy of our country was focused on the battle with sacrifices made by almost every person in the United States. Our country made sacrifices that would seem unendurable by today's standards. Sugar was rationed. Tires were rationed. Women went to the grocery stores with a fistful of coupons that entitled them to various "food luxuries" if any were available. Since the able-bodied men were in battle, the work of industry fell to our women and they stepped up to that challenge and kept the war machine operating. Virtually everything we could produce was directed to the effort to win the two-front world war in which we were involved.
Tom Brokaw wrote his book, "The Greatest Generation", describing many of the personal stories from that time and decreeing that, in his opinion, that must've been the greatest generation ever produced by our country. The Journal Sentinel has been profiling some of the few who are still with us in this area. By now you've heard ,many times, that we are losing the veterans of this "greatest generation" at the rate of some 1,000 per day.
Much has changed in the past 65 years since that fateful day. We have made great strides as a nation and as a people. Man has walked on the surface of the Moon. Medical miracles are now almost commonplace. We know, or think we know, more than we ever have before building knowledge on the shoulders of those who have gone before.
And yet there is a feeling that makes me wonder how we would respond today if challenged as we were 65 years ago. Would we enter a world wide conflict today even if it threatened our existence? Would our politicians set aside their petty differences long enough for us to mount the effort?
If our relatively recent history is any indication, it would seem that we'd better be able to win any conflict in very short order; our staying power as a country has greatly diminished. We have, it seems, somehow lost the will we had, the pride we had, when we produced that "greatest generation". Could we again, some 65 years into the future, look back on today with similar thoughts?
We have, still, very brave and capable men and women in our armed forces. We have, still, the capacity to mount such an offensive. We do not seem to have the will to do so for any sustained period that, as then, seemed to have no end.
I hope we'll not be faced with the need to learn that lesson, but I am troubled with what I see as a diminished spirit , a diminished will, in our country.
I am even more troubled with the thought that I might be leaving my grandchildren in a country lesser than that I inherited from my fore-bearers.
I am reminded, of course, that we are only human. There are many things "above our pay grade"; fortunately so.
The Curmudgeon Blog today is titled "Pay To Play?"