Military stories from past to present, both wars.

Spirit of ’45

August 25th, 2011 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

My Neighbor Bruce is a Col in the Air Force down at the Base near us and I attended a gathering of WWII vets where he was one of the Guest speakers.  This was the speech that he wrote and I thought it was a great piece of work to put up. Hope you enjoy it!

Semper Fi,

Taco

Good morning.  First off, let me say thanks to the entire Spirit of ’45 organization, for the opportunity to speak at this wonderful event.   The privilege to address the veterans of WWII and their descendants is an honor for which I am truly grateful.  While a magnificent opportunity to visit with veterans of wars long since concluded, it’s equally exciting to look out in the audience and see children, grandchildren and even a few great grandchildren of our World War II warriors.  Organizations like the Spirit of ’45 now erupt across our nation, tackling the critical task of broadcasting and perpetuating the greatest of stories from the greatest of nations…born from a quiet and humble group of Americans widely recognized as the Greatest Generation.

On December 8th, 1941, President Roosevelt delivered a speech before the United States Congress, describing the events the day prior as “a date which will live in infamy”.   Four years, nine months and seven days later, on August 15th, 1945, the unconditional surrender of Japan brought to an end one of the most brutal periods in American and world history. 

It would be a relatively simple task to speak of the countless feats of courage and the endless stories of sacrifice this generation endured throughout the war years.  Many believe the story of the Greatest Generation was written during these years – but – there’s so much more to their story.  From this generation, beyond the lessons of war, all Americans can study and learn the value of integrity, the comfort of selfless service and the rewards of ultimate victory when tenaciously striving for excellence.

Today, America struggles with multiple military engagements across the globe and an ever present threat of terrorism.  The latest crisis…political gridlock, apparent uncontrollable deficits and a crushing national debt now produce endless predictions of global economic collapse. 

All of these dark challenges serve to create fear, uncertainty and a fragile foundation where forward momentum is difficult to establish.  Every day…the skies seem to darken a bit more.  A father of six, I struggle to imagine what the future must look like to my four oldest children, now ranging in age from 23 to 18.   So instead of addressing those who we celebrate here today, let me direct my remarks towards this younger group of Americans.  Born in the late 80’s and early 90’s, this challenged group is the grandchildren of the Greatest Generation.

What can be learned if we benchmark the challenges of today with those faced by the generation born to America near the year 1920?   Some 90 years removed, this generation was born while our nation struggled mightily with a devastating depression.  The problems then weren’t as superficial as high gasoline prices, rolling brown outs or lack of jobs for recent college graduates…but…more importantly, whether or not there would be food on the table at the end of the day.   This generation quickly learned the value of a hard day’s efforts and the benefits of a family working together, striving to simply survive from one season to the next.

After a youth spent helping their parents pull the nation out of the depression, the winds of war would soon bring on the next challenge for what should have been a beleaguered group of young Americans.  But yet, it was the immense difficulties during their formative years that would forge a character that will serve as an inspiration for all Americans far into the future.

Following the tragic events at Pearl Harbor, our nation and the free world called upon this unique generation of Americans.  Fresh off the bleak days of the depression and now asked to fight in faraway places unknown to so many. .there was no hesitation and no self pity.  Deep within this Great Generation of Americans were the characteristics that would propel our nation to victory…and then following the war…on to becoming the mightiest free economy the world has ever known. 

They boarded ships and planes with no guarantees of victory, no idea when and where the next attack would hit, and most unsettling…they were given limited odds as to their very own survival.  Sadly, some 418,000 Americans – civilian and military – lost their lives in the war years to follow.

Casting doubt and fear aside, these young Americans dispelled the temptation to stand aside and let the fate of the world be decided by others.  It was their time – their challenge and their opportunity to change the world for the better. 

The monumental victory of ’45, and the fruitful decades that followed, does not solely belong to those who wore the cloth of our nation – but extends to every American who sacrificed and fought through adversity here at home.  From factory workers churning out arms and materials for the war effort to the farmers feeding not just America but a war-weary world, this generation was all-in.  The tenacious efforts and immense resolve of these young Americans quickly became the most potent weapon in the allies’ arsenal. 

This generation recognized that concepts such as liberty, freedom and democracy should never be taken for granted and were well worth fighting for.   Reaching beyond their own lives and borders, their efforts would pour the foundation for the entire world to begin re-building efforts. 

So to the young Americans in the audience today, find inspiration in the amazing and selfless contributions made by your parent or grandparents.   Just as they rose to the challenges of their time…so shall the generations of Americans that are now in the driver’s seat.  When Americans are fully mobilized…no crisis is too great.  When Americans stand together…all expectations are within reach. 

While today’s wars differ greatly from World War II, the enemies of freedom are not a threat to be ignored.  As our nation’s political leaders navigate troubled international waters, countless soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines serve abroad, shining the light of freedom in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.  The hopes of the world are pinned that these brave warriors’ efforts will eliminate the misery, ignorance and suffering inflicted by malevolent and corrupt dictators.

Sadly, as of July 25th, more than 6,100American men and women have perished in Iraq and Afghanistan.   Thousands more have returned home with debilitating and lifelong injuries.  While all American families are not directly touched by today’s conflict, all have taken notice of the sacrifice made by our service men and women.  Unlike America’s veterans returning from Vietnam, today’s warriors are repeatedly stopped and thanked for their selfless service. 

With the gratitude of all who now serve abroad….let me say thank you for the tremendous support provided our nation’s military forces.

Today, while our nation endures similar doubts, worries and fears as did the “Greatest Generation” faced on December 8, 1941, I am confident our young Americans, inspired by those who did so much in their lives, will look out on the troubled landscape and follow suit. 

Again let me offer my thanks to this fabulous organization…your efforts will do much for our nation.  Keep the Spirit of ’45 alive!

Thank you…

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