Last week our Editorial Board wrote an excellent editorial about the passing of the Greatest Generation and the efforts of the Honor Flight to transport WWII Vets to Washington DC to visit the memorial erected in their honor.
When we think about their sacrifices, their heroic efforts and their commitment to the values this country represents, it created a benchmark for future generations on how to overcome in surmountable odds. They fought for their belief in themselves, their nation and the freedom of future generations.
They took great pride when they would introduce themselves saying “I’m an American.” Raising the flag and knowing what it represented was an emotional experience for most. To others around the world that phrase and the flag represented many things; Freedom, Strength. Friendship and Hope. Far from perfect, the entry of the United States in the Great Conflict tipped the scale in favor of the Allies, but it all began with a united effort and a nation that was totally committed to victory.
During the war everyone, in the service or at home, recognized the only path to victory was one of complete support. Every man women and child of all ages joined in the effort from food and gas rationing at home in the states, to the ultimate sacrifice of losing loved ones fighting the war. The cost, no matter how great was recognized, as the price our nation had to pay to preserve our way of life and be a beacon for the world.
That Greatest Generation helped save the world and created an environment for the prosperity we enjoy today. But sadly, I wonder how they feel about where we are moving the country today? Are our efforts in keeping with the values they so held dear and that so many gave their lives to secure? As a nation with so much opportunity afforded us by their sacrifice, are we taking advantage of those opportunities to secure the nation and its values for the generations to follow?
Americans seem so divided in so many ways today. I just got off the phone with my sister a short while ago who called to wish me a happy Father’s Day. She filled me in on an issue going on within her church and school that divided the congregation, and put friends, neighbors and relatives at odds with each other. The conversation resonated with this column that I was well into writing. Whether it’s churches, various organizations, community governments, play grounds, politics, the brand of product you favor or conversations around the water cooler, regardless of the issue it seems to be the national position these days to take sides. Leaving little room for any other opinion except the one you favor.
The internet and the media are full of opinions. It’s easy to find someone who has written something that affirms your beliefs. Personalities, politics and a lack of tolerance seems to permeate every level of society. I witness it each week with this column as I’ve mentioned before. Readers are either wildly in favor or adamantly opposed. While it’s great to have passion for your beliefs, I fear we’ve taken this to a new high and it’s become a non-productive influence within our nation.
From road rage to violence in the schools and the endless bickering of our elected officials; half the nation doesn’t want to know the real truth and the other half is willing to believe anything that sounds disastrous for the other side, and it doesn’t matter which side of an issue you are on since both sides employ the same tactics. If this level of distrust and animosity existed in the 1940’s America would have been hard pressed to accomplish what it did for the world.
No one wants to see a world disaster or conflict to unite this country but as Americans we need to take a hard look at what we are doing, what we are saying and where we are going with our society. We should not squander the opportunity given us by that Great Generation. We need to start pooling our resources together and re-build the pride our forefathers had in this nation; a pride we all should share, regardless of who is in office. We need to celebrate the freedoms we enjoy and recognize the price that was paid for our ability to exercise them. We need to be willing to share those freedoms with our fellow countryman, be more tolerant of their choices and take greater pride in the nation we are privileged to call home. We can build a stronger country or we can watch it decay from a lack of unity and effort.
Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.