Tom Brokaw ~ "One of the hopes that I had is that this book will be a kind of catalyst for more dialogue between generations about the lesson of that time and what we can be doing together now."
Greatest Generation Speaks
While Tom Brokaw was celebrating the heroics and achievements of WWII on the 40th anniversary of DDay, the historian Stephen Ambrose reminded him of the importance of recalling the savage nature of war.
Do you agree with Stephen Ambrose ~ or is the reality of war best forgotten?
Greatest Generation ~ Tom Brokaw ~ Part II
Greatest Generation ~ Tom Brokaw ~ Part III
We hope you are ready to discuss the books, share your memories, search for lessons learned to pass on to future generations and have a grand time, all at once!
The book discussion will begin on April 16. That leaves you plenty of time to get your book, and introduce yourself! Just who was the "GREATEST" GENERATION? Share your thoughts!
Had to laugh after reading your post - about not being able to receive the book in time - until I noticed you were writing from Cape Town! Have you lived there all your life? Your memories would add quite an interesting perspective and contrast to those growing up in this country at the same time! Yes, you must come back! Book or no! Welcome!
I'm curious about your understanding of the "Greatest" Generation? Is that your understanding of the "Greatest" Generation? Between the Depression and the Second World War, born before 1945? Then some of the "Seniors" here are Boomers, right? Those born after 1945? The greatest generation to you will be your parents!?
I believe the nation was more united then than at any time in history in the all consuming desire to end and over come these two terible adversities. I think these two horrible events gave us the back-bone and courage to be called the "greatest generation." Let us all hope nothing like these two night mares ever happens again. Was that for-mentioned quote from the "Tale Of Two Cities."
Thanks Betty and Bill! "The best of times. The worst of times" That says it all doesn't it?
Fran! Shirley! Chicago! Chicago! We had a time with Studs, didn't we? I think this discussion will go beyond the War, although it certainly played a major role....Britta is a constant reminder of the war, having survived the bombing of Dresden. Happy to have you back with us for this discussion! A different perspective, but what a lesson in survival and a positive attitude you bring to the table!
Diane & Aquarius67, what do they call us..."Tweeners"? Two late to be called "greatest", too early to be "boomers"? What do you all say? Where does the greatest generation start and end?
Whatever! While you're here, you are all the "greatest"! Welcome aboard!!!
I have ordered the Book and intend to be here but I will be coming in on a wing and a prayer. Love Ginger
In my mind are two thoughts regarding myself which I wish to share with you. First -- I was a 1920 baby. This September I will be 80 years old. My father was a World War I veteran; I lived through the prosperous years after that war; I lived through the depression; and I am now a veteran of World War II. I consider myself eligible to be one of those who speak for the generation that Brokaw describes as the "greatest." But then, so are many of you.
Secondly, perhaps some of you may remember the slogan expressed in the Sixties by the young people -- "What if they declared war and nobody came." And I think now -- what if they designatd me as leader of this discussion and nobody comes to discuss anything? The result would be too horrible to imagine but it emphasizes the fact that you (ALL OF YOU!!) are the engine which will make this Discussion Group move. Many many Senior Netters are members of the generation described in Brokaw's book.
Generations are nothing more than a combination of individuals. Brokaw spoke of his childhood and the effect his parents had upon him. You might want to speak of your earliest character-building memories. Who or what made you what you are today? You may consider yourself ordinary but Brokaw reminds us in his book that "extraordinary acts come from ordinary people."
And so -- hoist sails!! Many of the crew are already on board. We're on our way!!
I hope we can tell some of our own experiences and thoughts.
There was a home front and a battle front. And all of us who were in the armed forces salute those people for supporting us.
By all means "inject" some of your own thoughts and experiences. That is what will enrichen this discussion. Naturally we would hope that you would have the oppourtunity to read Brokaw's book and comment on it but even without the book you undoubtedly have many memories and philosophies to share with us.
Please keep in mind that we are not speaking only of the "war effort" but any memory you may have which you believe helped to make that particular generation a "great generation." It could be something your parents or grandparents shared with you regarding the period before World War II. Greatness often starts with childhood.
You say you "can't wait to get into the discussion when it comes." Well, it's here. What are your thoughts about that "special" generation?
You describe yourself as "one of the older of the Greatest Generation" and that you see "great strides" having been taken in the last 60-70 years. Do you remember the year 1930? What was different then?
You were born in 1929. What do you remember of those years from 1929 to 1939 - whether individual memories or of things going on around you? I have lost track of how many times I have heard people alive during those years say: "As I look back now, I realize we were poor, but I didn't know it at the time. Times were hard but I didn't know it. Everyone else was in the same situation."
In other Roundtables you have told us so much about your past difficult experiences. Who or what helped you to become the strong child you obviously were?
You are so right! "This discussion will be of interest to all ages." Good to have you with us!
It would also be worthwhile to talk to family members, friends, neighbors who are not on-line, but would love the opportunity to talk and share memories. If we each brought one other person into this discussion think of how much richer, how deeper our understanding of this generation...
AnnT ! Evamarie! Needlesnpins! KKatie! Ginger Your presence is noted and entered into the registry of the greatest! Welcome!
Great generations are made up of great people. Sometimes the traits which lead to that greatness start early in life. As you go through life, what have you seen around you?
You are exemplifying the hardships that helped some of that generation to become great. Was it Emerson who said "adversity builds character?" You strike a chord with me. I, also, knew about outdoor plumbing and the famous Sears Roebuck catalog that so many of the younger generation think is a joke - if they knew anything about it at all. I studied by the light of a kerosene lamp until I was in the sixth grade. I remember wearing a green eyeshade so the flickering yellow light wouldn't hurt my eyes.
As you say, the war rescued many from poverty but many many people had become "great" during the depression years. Thank you for sharing your memories of those hard times with us.
Whether you consider yourself part of the "Greatest Generation" or not, your comments are welcomed. Please stay with us.
Well, now you're no longer a rookie! Ask your brother and his wife to participate in Greatest Generation, too.
Would you expand a bit on your expression "shaped and formed by the Great Depression?"
Thank you so much for helping us to understand what makes a person "great." I think specifically of your father. I think of the terms you use - "he vowed to himself" - he took good care "as he had promised" - "paid all of his future education."
Your father was not in the White House; he did not become a billionaire; his name was not broadcast across the nation - but his life was shaped and formed by the Great Depression and he became "great."
You must be so proud!!
Based upon your comments and the life you remember, would you say that hardships help to make a person "great?"
Doesn't "plodding on through whatever is thrown at us" take courage, fortitude, strength, resilience, and a few other traits that may lead to "greatness?"
Your Granny "did what she had to." Other participants here might have some thoughts in that direction.
1 - Doing what we need to do but not thinking of ourselves as great.
2 - Being seen nevertheless as great in the eyes of others.
So who makes a generation great - those performing the actions or those observing? Sounds like a philosophical question but I submit that it is an important practical question. Tom Brokaw describes that generation as the "greatest." Does that generation see itself as such?
Hardship had already existed in the form of the Great Depression. May I suggest that the young folks of today don't understand why that word "great" exists before the word "depression". Very few people escaped it.
You ask the key question. Brokaw said that this particular generation was united by common values - "duty, honor, economy, courage, service, love of family and country, and, above all, responsibility for oneself." You say that you have heard about the Great Depression from your parents and grandparents. What have you heard? What are your reactions to what they told you?
But you know, I still write shopping lists on the back of envelopes. Not that I'm "cheap." It's just that I can't find any note pads when I need them so I pick up the nearest circular mailing envelope and write on that. On my desk I have evelopes with phone numbers, notes, messages and what have you. It's a great convenience these advertisers affords us.
Robert b, I apply the word "great" to my first-grade teacher. She taught me how to read!!! However, my spelling teacher gave up on me
At what age does a person gain the traits that lead to greatness? A few decades ago the Boy Scouts of America conducted a survey and found that a highly significant number of Eagle Scouts became officers during World War II. Some of the Scouting leaders wanted to use this information to show that becoming Eagle Scouts enabled them to later become officers. Some researchers questioned this, however, asking: Did becoming Eagle Scouts lead them toward becoming officers or were these young men originally of the caliber to become officers even if they had never been Eagle Scouts?
Where did their "greatness" begin? Is it possible that those people who endured the hardships described in earlier postings when they were young became better prepared for the hardships of war?
At what point does an "ordinary" person, as Brokaw says, begin to do "extraordinary" things?
Carol I know Katogama (spelling) well have fish there often as I was born In International Falls, Mn. Ginger
Maryal, that's right! The "silent generation"! I remember now! There were five of us in the family. The youngest were boomers! They have different values. They "inhaled", marched, protested - made themselves heard. We watched bemused...There are many of us here. In many ways we were more like our parents. I think when we get into the book, we will find ourselves, and our voices!
Hello, Gladys! You are one of the "greatest" as young SarahT is about to find out! And look over there - gathered around the punch bowl already...in basic black - Lorrie, Kath, Shirley, Ruth, Carole, Hendy (did they get it this time, Hendy?) You've all been registered on the list of the "greatest". Make yourself at home - you've all got stories to tell, we're certain! Will be looking for you on the 16th, book or no!
Hello, just dropping in after an intriguing invite by e mail...so I am looking around. Came in here first, as directed, and will be back!
Where alll my boy cousin's aw they are working. I am the oldest cousin alive AND am thankful for being alive.
Gingee to you only.
Senior net Friends for sure.
Wishing and praying for your good health. <Hey Hendie I am asking for all that pray may pray for you. OK. I have not to the best of my remberence ever ask for prayer on the net but I am asking this for you to be OK , Alright
You were born, as you say, "near the end of World War I" so you remember events in England similar to what American participants have mentioned here, eg picking up coal near the railway sidings and other hardships which apparently have helped to make the Greatest Generation what it is. I'm sure you will have many remembrances to share with us.
Betty H: We used to call you Hendie. How do you want to be addressed now? Good to have you with us!
Eddie Marie, you bring up an important point...say we do identify some of the key values that seem to be missing in today's generation. What can we do with this information? The answer to that may well be our legacy to the future!
In your very moving comments, you used the word "pride" that even kids had. Do you see that as a trait common among children nowadays?
Everyone fits in!! Please stay with us and continue to participate.
I have voted in every election for the past 58 years and I have no doubt that my mother's influence has been strong in this regard. I, also, am proud to be an American and the fact that I have a voice.
Mother was a very proud person she worked at the Studebaker factory and did well.
Dad was a steeplejack and made good money but he was a gambler so there is where his money went.
I just love all this comradship here. It just fills my heart with joy.
I have been babtised for the second time in my life. Marcie canged my name from Bilsom and babtised me Bill H. I know my sainted mother, who I know is heaven, will always hold Marcie in high regard for restoring my name to me
I was very touched by the part of your story in which your mother RETURNED the food to the Salvation Army. I can just imagine how they reacted. And I can see in my mind's eye your mother's head held high as she did it. And I have a sneaking hunch that she was accompanied by three little girls whose heads were also held high. This was a perfect example of the meaning of Emerson's comment that "Adversity builds character." In my personal opinion, this wonderful trait of your mother during hard times plus similar traits of millions of others is what makes a generation "great."
Eddie Did your daughter ever make the purse holder as I was as by a stranger again if I knew where she could get them.
Gladys are you planing to read the book (20th Century: Greatest Generation)? I do think I will enjoy it.
We'll begin the book(s) discussion on- April 16 . Be sure to tune in even if your book has not arrived. We'll have plenty to talk about!
The driver who paid for your mother's food and lodgings and refused re-payment from your mother's friend was of a type difficult to find these days. Would you say that people of his kind were those who helped to create a "great generation?"
You say you "tend to think more with a much earlier generation." Would you please expand a bit on that?
Thanks for reminding us to look at the generation which began at approximately 1920 "in its entirety" and ignoring its "deeply flawed greatness." What do you think, folks? Are we deluding ourselves? Is the generation of that period perhaps no greater than any other generation?
If I remember correctly (and my memory could be faulty here) the Works Projects Administration was the umbrella under which was the Public Works Administration (built housing as you said), Civilian Conservation Corps (also as you described), and the National Youth Administration for adolescents and young people who could be helped with part time jobs as they tried to continue their education. The main purpose of all that was, to put it simply, "keep them off the streets" and give some something productive to do.
A touching story!! I wonder if that "boy" is alive today. No doubt he remembers that and has often told his story.
WELCOME TO ALL YOU NEW POSTERS TO ALL BOOKS AND LITERATURE DISCUSSIONS. Ginger
It's a dilemma, isn't it? How can millions of people take part in a war which, like all wars, contains evil actions, eg concentration camps and interning of Japanese-Americans -- and, at the same time, be called members of a "great", if not "the greatest" generation? How does a person weigh one against the other?
This discussion promises to be just as spirited! Sarah begins to question the "greatest" designation for this generation and several more after that. It is up to Mr. Tom B. to present his reasons, supported with examples of greatness in the two books we will start discussion on Sunday. Let's keep an open mind. One of you asked what time TBrokaw would be here on Sunday. Wouldn't that be something? We could ask him why he chose this generation...but we haven't even discussed his books yet! THE BOOK DISCUSSION STARTS ON SUNDAY. Without Tom. Sorry to disappoint! Perhaps when our discussion gets going, he will get wind of it, and we can convince him to come in to answer our questions. I tell you what. We'll keep a running list of all the questions that you would like him to answer and we shall just see if he would agree to come here to chat! I'm sure he's busy. One of the busiest men in America - somewhere after Bill Gates, Regis Philbin...
Back in a minute - someone's at the door....
Denver Darling describes the generation of that age as practicing the "waste not - want not" theory and a significant number doing "something" for their country.
Does that ring a bell with the rest of you?
I didn't know it was on audio tape. That should help. Its sequel, "The Greatest Generation Speaks," is probably not on tape.
You have painted a vivid word picture of poverty combined with love! And you introduce it by speaking of "greatness." As we continue to move along in this discussion, I'm certain that your portraiture will be strong in the back of our minds.
Barbara asks us to question whether the "can do" attitude, a strong ingredient of World War II, came originally from the adversity of the world-wide depression. Was the depression the catalyst that helped that particular generation to become "great?"
What do the rest of you think?
My father was a disabled veteran from World War I (called the Great War). The result of World War I was approximately 10 million dead as compared to approximately one million in World War II. Of the 200,000 some odd U.S. wounded in WWI, my father was one. He came home with his right side partially paralyzed. Prior to the war he worked in Wall Street and had beautiful handwriting. After the war his condition worsened progressively to the point where everything had to be done with his left hand and he limped.
My mother was a hospital volunteer during that war, met my father who was a patient, and they ultimately married. I was an only child and the apple of my mother's eye. She gave me moral and emotional strength until she died when I was nine years old. My father continued on his own to raise me until I was 16 when I graduated high school.
My father's mother was born and raised in Naples, Italy. Her father was the Superintendent of Schools in Naples and my mother was a Marchesa. She lived in a large villa and had a governess who took care of her. Money was no problem. She sat on her balcony, eyed the policeman on his beat below, and the bottom line was that they eloped to France, got married, and came to New York City where she lived in Little Italy, as different as anything could be from her original habitat. She and my grandfather never escaped the resulting poverty but in the process they raised six fine sons, one of whom was my father.
We can see here, as well as from Jim's touching tribute to his aunt and uncle, that each generation strongly affects the following one. Which generation is "greater" than any other?
Aquarius, my favorite music too! What were your favorites?
ps, I've been informed that there are still copies of Greatest Generation Speaks available!
Heeeee's Glady's Good to see you here and sharing so much.
I am truly enjoining every ones posts. Thank all of you for your sharing. GETTING TO KNOW YOU.
My God they were powerfull posts. The emotions and feelings you displayed when writing them came through so vividly. No writing can begin to match the writings of true emotions and feelings when those feeling are expressed as you folks expressed yours!!
These momories you just expresed,good or bad, will be cherished for ever by you.
Aquarius, I still dance to the Big Band music when I can find a local band playing it. I love the fox trot, waltz, and swing! That music will never die. It was part of what kept our spirits up during those trying times.
Betty Gregory: I agree with you completely about the plight (not a very descriptive word) of the six million Jews. That is definitely what set off World War II from other wars.
Again the word "togetherness." Carollee says she remembers that the most.
Phyll also says that "we did everything together." And I assume everyone caught her remark that "we didn't have any money but we sure weren't poor." Do you suppose the majority of young folks these days would understand that remark?
Raymond! Another familiar name from the "GOOD WAR discussion. I just know you will bring a lot to this discussion! Welcome! In answer to your question, no I don't think today's child would understand this concept. Do you think you even knew you were "poor" back then? We didn't. Look forward to your thoughts on T. Brokaw's Greatest Generation next week!
In the early 20th Century millions of Jewish people mainly from Poland and Russia arrived. They were escaping persecution and immediately began a life of various kinds of industry or journalism or the theatre.
I am from the generation that has been described as the Greatest Generation. What about my grandparents' generation and the generations of your ancestors? What did they contribute to America?
This Discussion Group thrives on soapboxes. Opinions are welcomed. Do I detect from some of you a concern about the term "greatest" as opposed to just "great?"
Being present when the Golden Spike was driven must have been a thrilling event. The building of a transcontinental railroad was a terrific event in itself not to mention the creation of the telegraph line which went along with it. How difficult it is to determine which generation in those pioneering days was great, never mind deciding now which was the "greatest."
The future is moving in on us so rapidly that I am certain we will see many new "great ideas" before our time on earth comes to an end.
Very few of them were turned away from our door without getting some change or a sandwich. Some of them would put the food in a paper bag and take it home, where ever that would be, so their kids could have some thing to eat. My folks felt so sorry for one man they brought him in and sat him down at the table and fed him a plateful of food. He hadn’t eaten in almost two days. He broke down and cried before he left our house.
But, you know, some of them, after receiving some thing at places they visited, would draw an arrow with a piece of chalk pointing to that house so that others would know. It was not to bad a time for those who had a job. But for those who didn’t have work it was just plain awful
While writing this, I am reminded of a song of that era that described things pretty well.
Alleluia, I’m a
Alleluia, bum again
Alleluia, give us a hand out
to revive us again
Now I went to the house
and I knocked on the door
the lady said bum-bum
you’ve been here before.
Alleluia, I’m a bum.
Alleluia, bum again
Alleluia, give us a hand out
to revive us again.
It’s too bad it took a second World War to really bring us completely out of that depression. I often think what a shame we owe so much of our techknowlogical advances to that world conflagration.
You are not an interloper. This forum is not just for those in the generation which began approximately 1920 but is for everyone who has thoughts about that generation whether it be the generation of your parents or your grandparents. Please share with us not only your own memories but those told you by your family members.
Carol Shovein I sure hope you enjoyed International Falls, Mn. I fished and eaten fresh WALEYE there on vaction while visiting relation there all my life. I was born there but we traveled alot and settled in Mich. in 1946 and I delivered the South bend Tribune on horse back in thoes days but we alway went back to the Falls at least once a year. Talk to me. Tell about your trips there etc. Did You Fish or what? Denver Darlin The red is for the beautiful Red Rocks in your state, Have lived there and enjoyed it so, I lived in Denver and EverGreen both special places. I to am waiting on the book with much atisapation. Robbie I have enjoyed you sharing your back ground with us. I apprieciated and enjoyed it. Ginger
Gladys I have enjoyed your caring and sharing with us. I am so glad that you came thru your fall as good as you did, Some thing from our up bringing makes us servivous (sp) and you do so well Love.
I am so looking forward to getting this book and sharing with all of you. Love Ginger
Hope you are all safe from the market dive today. Somehow I don't feel it is in the ethos of the "greatest generation" to speculate very much - but I may be wrong? If I am, I hope you can hold on till the market recovers...
Talk to you on Sunday!
I'll be in and out of here on Sunday...and Robby will be here all day, if I know him! Don't know where that man gets his energy!
Judge the book? Let's just let the memories flow! The book is merely the "catalyst!" (Where do those quotes go, prof? Before or after the exclamation point?) What often happens here - the discussions are better than the book!
Now the “ice-man” cometh. We would put the ice card in the window before he arrived to let the ice-man know how many pounds of ice was wanted--25,50,75 or a hundred pounds of ice. He would pull up in his ice-truck, read the ice-card and break off the approximate weight, of course he would weigh it on his scale . He would then grab the ice-block with his tongs, put the block on a leather pad he had slung over his shoulder to keep the shoulder from freezing--I wonder how much arthritis he had--and then bring the ice to the house and put it in the ice compartment of the ice-box.
In the winter months the ice would last a reasonable length of time. But in summertime, well you know what they say about a snow-ball in H. A water tray was kept under the ice-compartment at all times and it was emptied several times a day, unless you didn’t mind a wet floor frequently. We kept our ice-box in the dinning-room. The kitchen would get way to hot when the oven was on causing the ice to melt more prematurely than usual. These ice-boxes were a poor substitute for the modern day freezers and refrigerators. No wonder there was so much bacteria around. And no anti-biotics either.
In addition to these ice-boxes, a lot of people kept window-boxes. These looked very much like the room air-conditioners that protude out from the windows, however on the inside of the window was a door that could be closed to keep the “cold” in the box. This was kept in the kitchen window. These were all right in winter, but forget them in summertime. They were used just to keep things cold for a very short period of time, maybe for an hour or two.
Then in the late 1930s we bought our first “real” electric refrigerator On the top of it was a big round thing that looked like a big lair cake. I suppose it was the compreser or motor or both. How nice not to have to bother with big blocks of ice and all the work that they entailed. Now we could really keep food from spoiling. I wonder if the ice-man's shoulder thawed out.
Memories - memories - memories on how you got along during "hard" times. Bill H reminding us of the period before electric refrigerators came into existence. Maryal telling us about window boxes. My grandparents had one of those which obviously were only practical during the winter. Phyll, Shirley, and others stirring up our memories about childhood games which no longer seem to be in existence and Phyll reminding us that going barefoot was not just "for fun" but was often a necessity to save shoes. Ruth's mother cleaning offices for a living. Shorty70 wearing "hand-me-downs." Do you suppose the present generation knows what that term means?
Jerryj: Dealing with nostalgia is one thing; "wallowing" in it is another. What I hear here are the voices of strong (very strong) people who share with each other how they coped with those difficult times. Or as Carol's father said: "take a new direction and never look back." But we are talking about what has been described as the "Greatest Generation." Betty tells us about hardships she had in the 50s which, she says, were not that different from those in the 20s, 30s, and 40s. This, of course, leads us back to the original question: "What is it about a generation which makes it not just great, but "The Greatest?"
You and I posted at about the same time and it seems came up with the same relevant question. What do the rest of you see as the answer?
That being so, I remember very well (I was nine years old at the time) the news of the stock market crash in 1929. I did not understand what was going on but I do remember the newspapers telling of men jumping out of windows. Am I the only one here who remembers the 1929 crash?
Yes, there was a gas powered refrigerator which ironically was named "Electrolux." It was popular in the late 30s. I was at that time working for the advertising agency that handled the Electrolux account.
I am still wondering if I am the only person here old enough to remember the 1929 stock market crash.
My grandmother had to take medicine when she woke in the mornings so she kept a glass of water on her night stand. You guessed it!! On some very cold winter mornings there would be a skim of ice on the water in the glass.
But,you know, cold high-ceilin downstairs rooms kept the Christmas tree needels from getting to dry.
Regarding the stock market "crash" of yesterday that you recall, it was announced that as a result Bill Gates lost 11.1 billion dollars. Rumor is that he is considering declaring bankruptcy.
You certainly have many memories as well. Let them pour out of you. Please share with all of us the memories and other thoughts that are in your mind. Whether you consider yourself of that generation or not, your memories are valuable. We are listening!!
"Coming of age during the Depression - what does "coming of age" mean to you all? ~ "coming of age during WWII"...again, same question?
Look forward to coming home this evening and hearing your comments! I'll report on the meeting between JerryJ and myself. It's always so exciting meeting someone you've met here - this is especially fun for me because Jerry and I met here and didn't realize that we've both worked in the same building for three years!
Have a super Sunday, everyone!
I think it's safe to define the "greatest" using TomB's parameters of those who "came of age" during the Depression to those who came of age during WWII - those born in the first quarter of the 20th century? Perhaps we'll add a few years to include those who "came of age" in 1945??? So if my math is correct we are talking about those born in the first quarter of the century - up to and including 1927? What do you think? Does that sound about right? What about those born in 1928-30? They would have been adolescents during the war? Do you think Tom B. would include them?
So far we have two to add to our list of Tom's greatest generation, Robby and Patrick. Shall we put their names on a special chart? I'd like to do that. What do you think? Given the years 1900 - 1927, can you think of anyone born in this period you'd like to include in the discussion - someone not on SN? Wouldn't that be special? Each one talk to one? Many of us have parents who fall into this category who might like to have the chance to "SPEAK"!!!
Really tired tonight! You'd understand if you ever celebrated Shakespeare's b'day at the Folger! Talk to you tomorrow!
Perhaps, through you, your 95-year-old father-in-law can share with us some of his thoughts about his generation and his attitude toward defining a particular generation as the "greatest generation." You might not want him to know that his thoughts are going to us here. If you don't find that unethical, it would most certainly give us here a broader perspective.
Maryal, that's right, Gladys will be another name for that chart that I'll put up later today. Am looking forward to hearing from more of you this week!
Wonderful that you are sharing our thoughts here with your mother!! This will help to expand the discussion and hopefully, either "directly" or through you, she will add some relevant ideas.
I suppose it is arbitrary to set a "cut off" date as Betty mentions her mother not "making" it, but her uncles do. From all Betty has said her mother "qualifies" - Let's raise the bar from 1927 - to ??? I think it was Robby who mentioned that children "came of age" earlier in those days. So perhaps those who were in their teens by the end of WWII would also fit Tom B's category. Betty, would you tell us the year your mom was born? I'd like to include her name on this chart in the making....or no chart, just my own list if you all agree that you don't want to see the list of SNetters in the spotlight?
I would love to hear more of the "idioms" of the time? Would you include the area of the country (world?) these expressions come from as Jerry did? Sometimes it's the idioms that bring back the old memories?
By the way, what was the life-changing event that prompted Tom's interest in this generation?
Welcome to the world of hardship!!
Others have not mentioned here about that generation gaining by getting to "see the world." Would you expand on that a little, please?
I wonder if we could overcome the title~ at least until we've finished the books, reserve the "judgement" part till then ~ and simply look at the legacy of this particular GREAT generation.
TB writes something in these introductory page about being "challenged" about this very thing and adds, "I believe I have the facts on my side." We'll see. Certainly his choice of title will be on our list of questions! I hope you stay with us, Hootie. Your memories are precious and valuable to all of us, right gang?
JerryJ, this is tough for you. All of us who have had a pet understands just what you are going through. We are thinking about you.
So, have you checked out the QUESTION du JOUR up in the heading? Any memories of what you felt on that day, Ray? What kind of information did you have about what was going on over there? I remember my family in an uproar because my uncle was over there. Another very sad memory, which I may be able to bring myself to share with you in the next few days. Where were you? Do you have any memories of that day?
At nights, before I entered the service, I could look off in the distance and see the sky blazing fire-red over J & L (Jones & Laughlyn) steel mill). The sky was aglow from their blast furnaces and when they would pour the molten steel into vats, LOOK OUT. I never seen the aurora borealis, but I think this more than made up for them.
In the spring of 1984 I went to the northwest of France, to Normandy, to prepare an NBC documentary on the fortieth anniversary of D-Day............... I was well prepared with research on the planning for the invasion.......What I was not prepared for was how this experience would affect me emotionally.
Then Saint Harry S. Truman ordered the A-bomb droped. It saved my life and an untold number of other lives. Not to mention the casulties. I think anybody elese in our shoes would feel the same way.
Joan, D-day took place a few months before I was inducted into the Army. I remember it quite well because most of my buddies and I knew we would be entering the armed forces very soon.
MaryPage: I'll check further on the loss of lives in the Soviet Union.
Bill H: Your terminology of "Saint Harry Truman" is intriguing. It saved your life. How do others here feel about that?
My mother put all of her wage into war bonds she worked at the Studabaker corp and I guess my Dad paid the bills.
Gladys, Carollee, Katie and Lois it is so good to see you here. Is this the best of times to be able to share our menories. WOW I am sure enjoying all and reliving my childhood with all of you. Thanks so much. I thought that I was alone for some reason.
You say that you went on "longer than intended." I hope that this "lapse" continues!! You have such rich memories. You may say that what your father did was "not the same as fighting" but he was at the front lines and, believe me, that's the same. I remember very well the Red Cross representatives. They were our life line to our homes which were constantly in our thoughts.
You bring up the subject of V-mail. How many here remember those treasured little bits of letters?
Yes, the OSS is the ancestor of the current CIA. Tell us some more about her language ability and her work in the OSS. I'm sure not everything there is still classified. This is part of the war effort which most people don't know about.
Don't stop here!!! Your family has much to be proud of and especially as you label them - the "valiant women." And I won't ask you what the spy in your family did. I know better!
Please keep talking!! As important as the boys on the front lines were, we must also learn about the activities of less publicized participants - especially the women.
I have two other books about these times and will be commenting on them along with the two GG's. And,by the way, I haven't received my GG Speaks yet? Any idea where it might be?
I am a later GG baby, having been born in 1935. I grew up in a boarding house you might say as my parents to keep on top of their bills, rented rooms throughout the was and afterwards, to hockey players in Indianapolis. So my brother and I were spoiled by these "big brothers" for 10 years. It was quite a lot of fun for us but mucho work for my mother and dad. I will be back with a question for Tom Brokaw as soon as my company leaves on Thursday. See ya, Ann
Re qu #2, His trip to Normandy, the awsomeness, the "why" most of those remaining do not want to discuss it. (I was not part of Normandy), And a desire to write a book.
#3, Amen to Saint Harry Truman. I was in the Aleutians.
To a better subject of many good memories, the depression era. Maybe of many rough times but a tremendous learning experience. Earn a dollar for the boss before you expect a dime in your paycheck. If you got a dollar, it was only 90 cents, put 10 cents away for a rainy day. The unions roughing you up because you were working faster than the seniors, (with no sweat)but the unions had their place. 15 cents an hour when you could find someone to furnish work. Find milk bottles for the 5 cent deposit. Three and you could go to the movies. Make sure you wound up in life owning the roof over your head. And the sun came up this morning, somewhere, its another gloomy day here in Northern VA, but must shake off the depression of yesterday and get on with it. Think positive.
Tom Brokaw was born in 1940, so his memories of the war are about as good as yours, Ginny. He has stated that the lessons, the values to be learned from the memories of this generation are important ones for coming generations and that's why he hopes his books will stimulate dialog among the generations who follow them. There is room in this discussion for each generation...the one preceding as Mary Page has mentioned and all who follow. I guess we should decide right now to look at this discussion not as one in which we decide the "greatest", but as a discussion of the "greatest" contributions from this generation to the future...
Good to hear from you!! You ask "where have I been?" I am the DL for Seniors View the Future and you can find me there on a daily basis. I can still remember our sitting side by side at a table in Chicago during the auction and laughing our heads off!
As a member of the generation being discussed (I was born in 1920), I agree with you regarding all those varying events being so important. At the time of the Dust Bowl I was living out on Long Island in the Atlantic Ocean and can remember looking upward and seeing those dark brown clouds covering the sun hour after hour. Imagine that -- people's farms were passing overhead and had traveled 2,000 miles to get there. So many traumatic events were happening during those years.
Good to see you, Ginny. May I repeat Joan's comment that this Discussion Group is for all generations and will enable other generations to understand what happened during the years of what Brokaw has labeled the "Greatest Generation."
Permit me to state that you have made, in my opinion, a most insightful remark - that is, that the genes are still here and that today's generation will show itself to be "capable when life becomes impossible." The difference, therefore, lies not in the individuals of that generation but in what life handed them -- the Dust Bowl, the stock market crash, the lack of medications as we now know them, the Great Depression, the overall poverty, and on and on and on. I think that Emerson's comment bears repeating: "Adversity breeds character."
The men and women today just out of high school and "earning" their millions of dollars in Wall Street have no idea whatsoever what we went through (and we are not complaining, mind you) but threaten this nation in some way and "make life impossible" and the genes that Betty mentions will immediately come to the fore. This I believe.
In one of your earlier postings you spoke of women in your family who "would have died for their country." Now you speak of "tearing up" when thinking of the great D-Day armada.
Please tell us, MaryPage, what is your definition of patriotism?
I'm reminded of that TV comercial of the Italian grand-father walking along with his grand-daughter and saying "What a wonderfull age we live in." And she had a look of great admiration on her face.
I believe it was Santayana who said: "Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it."
Do the rest of us here believe another war is in the offing?
The attack on Pearl Harbor was certainly a traumatic event for you. The effect on children was perhaps greater than many of us realized.
Gail, I'm thinking of your question about applying lessons of the past to the future...What will tomorrow's children learn of or from the generation that produced a Hitler, that was ready to follow such a man?
Mal, I am profoundly moved by your account, your detailed memory of events on a date so long ago! Even down to the wallpapering!!! When was the last time you thought about that day and those events? Was it just the memory of that date that brought the details back? Isn't the mind a strange, mysterious thing the way it "files" away so much that we are not even aware is there?
I think that anniversaries get you thinking about things that happened on a particular date...on my son's 30th birthday recently, I marvelled at the detailed recollection of his birth - so real, it could have happened 30 days ago! Not the pain, of course, just the face, my husband, the doctor and even the two student nurses who were witnessing their first birth that day!
Anniversaries tend to unleash memories! Did the 50th anniversary observations of WWII cause Vets you know to begin to talk of their memories - more than they had in the past? This seems to be what happened to Tom Brokaw in Normandy on the 40th anniversary of DDay. He was hearing stories of that war for the first time from people who had been there. Stories not available in history books, but that had been filed away in some part of the brain all those years ~ and he wanted to hear more.....
You can see it up in the heading right here - the very last line!
Thanks you all!
Please share some more of your WWII memories which you say are in your "autobiographical novel."
Please tell us what makes you feel so sure that "there will be another war."
You have brought out, in my opinion, some extremely relevant questions. We need to understand ourselves and the people around us. Not necessarily the wars themselves but the reasons for the wars. As Brokaw asks: "What are the lessons?"
As you say, our troops were taught survival. Gen. Patton has been quoted as saying: "Your job is not to die for your country; your job is to make the other fellow die for his country."
The change in attitude by the majarity of Germans today has facinated me in that I know of no other people that have absorbed and feel a true contrition for their past and are now acting from a completly different mindset. And in some ways our need for power with strong artifacts of war is a puzzlement.
From a speach in the Reichstag in 1899:The rapid growth of our population, the unprecedented blossoming of our industries, the hard work of our merchants, in short the mighty vitality of the German people have woven us into the world economy and pulled us into international politics.
If the English speak of a 'Greater Britain;' if the French speak of a 'Nouvelle France;' if the Russians open up Asia; then we, too, have the right to a greater Germany (Bravo! from the right, laughter from the left), not in the sense of conquest, but indeed in the sense of peaceful extension of our trade and its infrastructures... We cannot and will not permit that the order of the day passes over the German people...
There is a lot of envy present in the world against us (calls from the left), political envy and economic envy. There are individuals and there are interest groups, and there are movements, and there are perhaps even peoples that believe that the German was easier to have around and that the German was more pleasant for his neighbors in those earlier days, when, in spite of our education and in spite of our culture, foreigners looked down on us in political and economic matters like cavaliers with their noses in the air looking down on the humble tutor. (Very true! - Laughter.) These times of political faintness and economic and political humility should never return (Lively Bravo.) We don't ever again want to become, as Friedrich List put it, the 'slaves of humanity.' But we'll only be able to keep ourselves at the fore if we realize that there is no welfare for us without power, without a strong army and a strong fleet.
Heinrich Class, "If I Were Kaiser" (1912) Under the pseudonym of Daniel Frymann, Heinrich Class (1868-1953), President of the Pan-German League since 1908, expressed the sentiments of radical nationalists regarding the "reform" of the German Empire they deemed absolutely essential to stave off catastrophe.
The Text includes statements like:
We must take up the "struggle for the soul of the people," to paraphrase a beautiful slogan. The army administration will ... providing the opportunity for soldiers to hear lectures drawn from German history....If we are to take up this struggle, we must be clear about it: no half-measures, no weakness, no sentimentality. The whole work [must be carried out] with a firm, a hard will....
A return to health in our national life, in all its branches --cultural, moral, political, and economic--and the maintenance of that recovered health is only possible if Jewish influence is either completely expunged or screwed back to a bearable, innocuous level.
Let us be clear in the discussion of these necessities that the innocent must suffer along with the guilty.... borders must be totally and unconditionally barred to any further Jewish immigration...A Jew, according to the above Aliens' Law, is anyone who belonged to a Jewish religious corporation as of 18 January 1871, as well as all the descendants of such persons who were Jews at that date, even when only one parent was or is [a Jew by the above definition]. All public offices remain closed to Jews...As compensation for the protection Jews enjoy as foreigners, they shall pay double the taxes of Germans....
And now we come to the saving of the German nation's soul....When it comes to the future of our nation, we must put off weakness....
Resolutely militant policy against the Poles through application of expropriation and introduction of a prohibition against parcellization of land....Extension of military law to all regions endangered by Polish assault. Especially for Upper Silesia we must demand that those elected by the Polish people can sit in parliament only as advisors;
...When we consider that in [Alsace-Lorraine] the number of French speakers has grown constantly since 1871, we need to speak out in cold blood. We didn't take the Reichsland "for the sake of your beautiful eyes"; we took it out of military necessity. The inhabitants were an extra; the territory was the main thing...Every adult must declare publicly and without reservation for himself and his family,... that the French language will be used neither in the home nor outside it and that no newspapers, periodicals, or books will be brought in from France.
To facilitate the settlement of Germans [in Schleswig], the right of expropriation of Danish landed property is to be granted to the state, similar to the one applying to Poles.
Keeping this overall goal firmly in sight means therefore that all non-German aliens must be expelled from the territory of the Empire as swiftly as possible and under all conditions; and then they must be kept out for the duration....
Art is too holy to be misused in this way; our nation is too good to be exposed to such seduction....To safeguard art from petty police chicanery, the office of censor will be transferred to the best and most recognized masters in all fields....
In the discussion of voting rights it has already been put forth that the political strivings of women cannot be regarded as justifiable or useful. The strength of the woman is instinct. If she is conscious of her nation and proud of its character, history, greatness, and exploits, the German woman, acting on instinct, will cause her children to value their fatherland in feeling and attitude so that when they begin to think they can do naught but love it....
In the best of our people the need lives on today to follow a strong and virtuous leader. All who have not been seduced by the doctrines of an un-German democracy long for such a one, not because they are inclined to servility or weak in character, but because they know that greatness can only exert itself through the coming together of individual powers--something that can be achieved only through subordination to a leader.
It is good that you have given us some important history to contemplate. The question was: "What lessons have we learned" and to learn properly, one must examine both sides. When I was about five years old (1925), I remember my father telling me that things were so bad at that time in Germany that people carried around almost worthless Marks in big sacks and that when a sale of some sort was going on, one didn't count their number, one made a pile and then measured the pile with a ruler to estimate the money transaction.
You have helped us, Barbara, to see the pride of a nation that was down and out and which led to the speeches of Hitler that were referred to earlier. I'm sure that none of us here is espousing war or the terrible treatment of the Jews. We are examining hardship endured by the peoples on both sides.
On more than one occasion as we entered the war I heard the Biblical quotation: "If God be for us, who can be against us?" As I entered a deserted house in Herzogenrath, Germany, one day in 1944 I saw a wall hanging and on it was written in German: "If God be for us, who can be against us?"
When I was reading Barbara's account just now, I couldn't help but think about the dialogue among generations in Germany. It must be very different!! Long-held beliefs in power-"strong army, strong fleet" and the willingness to place all trust and confidence in a Hitler were changed by the war experience and the message in the generational dialogue must re-enforce and continue this lesson to its young. The Germany of today seems to have learned its lessons from the preceding generation through such dialogue.
Ella's husband is like many veterans of that war that I know. They'd rather not talk about the war experience at all. It is something "best forgotten." In some cases it is just too painful to dredge up the memories. I think we can all understand that. But the "war is hell" lesson is such a crucial one, isn't it? Do our young fully appreciate the real horror of war, or are they numbed by the movies, video games they have been exposed to? I find more and more that many just find war irrelevant to their lives. They have never experienced the draft. They think that some sign up for a career in the armed services and war is just part of that scene. But war does not affect their own lives, or where they live, so there is little interest in hearing about what is going on in other parts of the world - or in the past. Is this dangerous?
It has been my impression that the 50th anniversary of WWII brought many of the Vets of that war -"out of the closet" and they did begin to speak, movies, documentaries of WWII took the stage. And Tom Brokaw made his "discovery" - the importance of the stories these Vets had to tell - and not only that, the values and basic core beliefs and pre-war experiences that enabled them to face the war and then to come home and rebuild here at home!
Did the 50th anniversary of WWII bring out memories of that time in your neck of the woods? Are folks still talking? I felt and still feel a renewed interest. Did Tom Brokaw take this interest in the war a step further in his books?
ps It is from the highest authority that the books are in the mail! Let us know the MINUTE yours arrives!
Joan, I proofed the list above and wanted to mention Betty Henderson(Hendie) as part of the GG. There is also Gladys Berry. Both were adults during WWII in England.
We speak of the landings on the beach on D-Day. Which beach? Are we speaking only of Omaha Beach and Utah Beach which saw American landings or are we speaking also of the casualities of the brave Canadians on Juno Beach as well as the many British casualities on Sword and Gold beach?
Our friend, Britta, German born and a survivor of the Dresden fire bombings by the Allies shared with us in another forum the pain endured by the German civilians in that city. MaryPage in an earlier posting spoke of patriotic members of her family who would "die for our nation." As we look at that generation are we also referring to the brave German soldiers -- not Hitler's personal storm troopers -- but the average German youth who joined the Wehrmacht just as the average youth here joined our military? Many German young died for their nation. What are our thoughts of the Japanese Kamikaze (suicide) bombers who were not only willing to give their lives for their nation but made it a point to do so?
As we examine the Greatest Generation, are most of us speaking only of the American generation or are we including all the youth of that time?
I hope you all had a chance to read Ann's link in post #349. It directly ties in to what we are doing here...I liked this:"Stephen Ambrose, had been considered something of an eccentric when he started gathering the oral histories of World War II veterans back in the 1970s."
Ann, Gladys is on the original list - but will add her last name. Will add Hendy too! Anyone else missing? Check the list - in the last line of the heading above?
But doesn't that exemplify that old maxim: "As the branch is bent, so grows the tree."
So perhaps those of us in this older generation better watch carefully what our very young'uns are being taught. What can those of us in this generation do about it?
Today is the anniversary of Hitler's birth - 1889.
I've "listened" to the sage advice of one of our posters here and removed the last names on the chart of the "greatest" -
Will you take a moment and be sure all is right with the chart above - last line in the heading?
So,Robby, the monster was born one-hundred-eleven-years ago today.
All of them members of units which were part of the invasion - part of the "Greatest Generation." As we speak of that generation, to which nationality are we referring?
PLEASE! PLEASE! Try to share as much of your brother-in-law's story with us that you can. It sounds fascinating and will give us another perspective on the D-Day story.
I believe I have shared in another forum how, when I was a Scout Executive, I used to teach Scoutmasters the "tug of war" with a moral. A clothesline would be stretched between Scouts - a dozen on one end and a dozen on the other. They would pull until the rope broke. The frayed ends were attached with a square knot and the pull began again until the rope broke a second time.
The rope NEVER NEVER broke where the knot was. That had become the strongest part of the rope.
I will be thinking of you alot when I go to England. Wish you were coming but I understand. Love, Ginger
Gladys Hi to you Love from Gingee.
Ginger But I will always be Gingee to Gladys (Right Gladys)
Yes, there were Belgian and Dutch soldiers operating out of England. As I said, it was a true international melange there.
Interesting that your father was one of the first Boy Scouts. The Scouting movement was started in England in 1900 by Lord Baden Powell who had been a General in the Boer War and the movement came to the United States in 1910. I saw many Scouts in England during the war who were most active in furthering the war effort. Non-combative of course. Perhaps Gladys and others can tell us a bit about that.
If there are any in this Discussion Group who were in Germany prior to the war, maybe they can help us to understand what was going on in the minds of the populace. I am not a historian or social scientist but I do know from my studies that Germany was feeling humiliated after their defeat in World War I and that they saw a chance to retain their dignity upon hearing of Hitler's formation of the National Socialist Party (Nazis). It is amazing what people (of any nationality) will do when the times are hard enough. The middle classes were ruined by inflation and there was mass unemployment. The young people had no prospects. All that was needed was a charismatic leader.
"When much was made of the 50th anniversary of D-Day, someone wrote a letter to the editor of THE WASHINGTON POST to ask why everyone was giving so much attention to THIS day when there had been many, many other memorable battles in WWII.Hitler's domination is over! The war-weary world rejoices! Your comments on this man and then the Columbine tragedy bring up more questions. What was it about the youth of Hitler's Army and the Columbine HS boys that attracted them to seek strong leadership and direction - the "charismatic leader" Robby describes?
And I wanted to cry out to that person, Oh, it was not the BATTLE that was the thing! It was that we had waited and waited for Years and all of Europe was under Hitler's thumb and we thought the day would Never come that we began to push him Back to Berlin! THAT was the big thing about D-Day. We were On Our Way. "There'll Be A Hot Time In The Town of Berlin, When The Yanks Come Marching In! I Want To Be There, Boy, And Spread Some Joy When They Take Old Berlin!" Our first objective was to free Paris. "The Last Time I Saw Paris, Her Trees Were Dressed For Spring!" It was SUCH a big morale booster here on the Home Front and all over the globe. That was D-Day."
Denver D.has stated that we as grandparents need to make sure there is "SOMEONE" at home for our children. Do we need even more than "SOMEONE"? Do the young boys of today need strong male models in their lives?
Tom B. tells us in these introductory pages that the Greatest Generation has been generally an optimistic group, "never giving up on the next generation, during the social and political upheaval of the sixties." He also finds that those of the GG had learned "to accept a future that played out one day at a time."
This question is for those of you Tom B is describing here, the "greatest generation" ~ is this still true today? Do you still have that same confidence in the new generation? Do you still believe in accepting the future "one step at a time? "
These memories of ice boxes and delivered milk brought many memories to me. And, BettyG, your remembrance of your mother at the sewing machine with pins in her mouth just cracked me up. My mother made everything that I wore and at a treadle machine. She even tried bathing suits which didn't work too well. The newest thing being elastic thread, she thought that she would try one for me. When I spent my first day at the pool in my new suit, it streched all the way down, filled with water, to my knees. Didn't wear that suit again!
REP. DAVID PRICE
REP. JAMES TRAFFICANT
REP. BOB SCHAEFFER
COACH NOLAN RYAN
GOLFER TOM KITE
GOLFER BEN CRENSHAW
Sarah T asks an important question that we will bring up all through this discussion ! "What can we do" ~ to pass on the values and life lessons that made the greatest generation what it is. Certainly dialogue is key! There are lessons to be found, 'morals' to all the stories you've been sharing.
What more can we DO?
Denver mentions the importance of the daily presence of family members in the upbringing of children ~ that was a big part of how we were brought up. And then, in the absence of a strong parental presence, other role models. Not TV, Sports, Entertainment figures, but those in the life of the child with whom he can communicate. Two-way communication. Perhaps that's what is missing in the lives of many of today's children??? Let's talk about that first, the ordinary people in the life of the child. What are your feelings about the way today's children are growing up? Is the trademark optimism for the future Tom Brokaw describes still the way you view today's children?
And while we are talking about "ordinary people", let's talk about whether the greatest generation is made up of a lot of great figures, "stars" or ordinary people who accomplished great things - as Tom B believes. If that's the case, then what better role models for ones' children? How about it? Who were your role models growing up? In hindsight? Were they people in the public domain or right in your own neighborhood?
Ordinary people built a Roman Empire under the Caesars. Ordinary people conquered most of Europe under Charlemagne. Ordinary Southern people under the magnificent leadership of Robert E. Lee offered their lives for their cause. Ordinary Northerners under Ulysses S. Grant made the same offer. At the time of the Armistice, Grant ordered his soldiers to stand at attention as the Southern soldiers filed past in tribute to their extraordiary feats under the extraordinary leadership of Lee. When the war was over, ordinary people struggled to re-unite the nation under the calm guidance of Abraham Lincoln, a most extraordinary man.
Those of us who were in combat remember top platoon leaders and weak lieutenants -- top squad leaders and weak sergeants. And we remember what the ordinary GI did or did not do under such leadership. We might ask ourselves -- What if the top leaders of that time had not been Roosevelt or Churchill or Hitler? Would the same ordinary people have had the same results?
Is the current generation less great or more great than my generation -- or is it merely composed of the same kind of ordinary people as my generation and who are "waiting" for extraordinary leadership?
What, then, is needed to make a great generation.
Not only was he a geat athelete, but he was also a true gentleman both on the field and off. Even after he retired from base ball, he contiuned to display his "yankee clipper" attitude toward life. It is too bad that the young generation know so little about him. He took his place in the spotlight seriously and tried to display a good example in all he did.
I was told that the New York Yankee base ball players of his day was under contract to wear business suits when ever apearing in public. This ment wearing suits in restraunts, theaters, airports,etc... even when the club was on the road away from home.
Maybe some of you New York folks could tell me if this is true.
I love that!! A.G.E.D.
You say that what is needed to make a great generation is, if I understand you correctly, for the older people to impart their knowledge and get back their respect for each other. But what about all those youth on the battlefields who made up what Brokaw described as the Greatest Generation?
Thank you for your compliment to Joan and me but I can't overemphasize that most of the work by Joan is behind the scenes. She brought the Discussion Group into existence in the first place, she had an awful lot to do with making this site a colorful attractive one, and she is the one who is in constant communication with the "powers that be." She is also the person who reads the book ahead of the rest of us and creates the questions above. I'm just the blabbermouth!!
Katie's suggestion is that we, of the older generation, make efforts to "help the younger generations realize that there is a better way to live."
How do we go about doing this? I was taught many years ago: "What you do speaks so loud I can't hear what you say." What is our first step if we are to take any steps at all?
You said it just the way I paid you to say it. Thank you!!
Jerrj suggests that "we teach the foundations of thinking - how we know what we know." He suggests that "we start the kids young in looking for underlying causes - why we do things the way we do."
Eddie suggests as an example "the large amounts of older people who have met the challenges of the Internet and by doing so have gained the respect of our grandchildren." She states that "we have lost the ability to DEMAND respect." (caps mine). She adds that "making life better for our children has insidiously eaten at the core of our families."
A number of months ago in another forum I shared the time I did some shop lifting in my home town and the store owner caught me. I wasn't afraid of what he or the police or any other local authority might do. To this day, almost 70 years later, I can vividly remember what I said: "PLEASE DON'T TELL MY FATHER." He didn't tell and I never shop lifted again.
I don't know how to thank you enough for that free "publicity." Puts me in a pickle.
Before I entered the service, I mostly recall the men and women--Rosie The Riveters--waiting on the trolley-cars (gasoline was rationed and too precious to use on driving to work) carrying their lunch bucket going to work in the many mills this city had. These people would wait on the trolleys--we called them street cars-- at all times of the day and night--the mills worked ‘round the clock and the trolley cars ran ‘round the clock. Trolley car coins sold three for a quarter and transfers were free. Only one coin was needed to go to work and another one for coming home.
The people who worked in the war time industry were vitally needed for the war effort. The military depended on them for every thing--guns, ships, etc.... The seamstress was needed for our uniforms and, of course the FARMERS!! for food. The miners for coal. The Postman, God bless him. What would we have done without him? The home front and the battle front. Our rail roads (the Pennsylvania, B&O and the P&L E) were kept busy. The three rivers--Allegheny, Monongahela and the Ohio--were filled with river barges transporting war material We have a holiday on November the 11th. It used to be called Armistice Day. Now it’s called Veterans Day. Maybe it should be called “Americans Day.”
Just one more note. Pittsburgh, PA is no longer the “smoky city.” and the street lights are no longer lit at high-noon. No, the air is just as clear as most other cities--better than some. The mills are just about all gone now. Some small ones stand as a reminder of what used to be. Once in a while you’ll see a river barge, not often. The B&O railroad station was torn down. In its place stands the public safety building. The P & L E station was converted in to the Grand Concurse restraunt--very expensive. And the Pennsylvania station was converted into a large apartment-business office complex the last I heard. The city now is mostly a high-tech medical center and fee for service center. Is it for the best?. Who knows.
An apt description of the home front during a World War - no one without a duty, everyone doing something, activity 24 hours a day. It was common for young men in civvies to be asked by strangers: "Why aren't you in uniform?"
It led me from one thought to another to another. I thought about this nation being a nation of laws. And that led me to the thought of Lincoln's nation "by the people." And that led me to the thought of blacks during the civil rights movement crying "power to the people." And that led me to the thought that the Federal Government is not a group of bureaucrats in Washington,DC but that the government is the populace itself and that those in Washington are the representatives carrying out "our" laws which "we" create. And that led me to wondering what percentage of the people realize and stop to ponder the beauty and magnificence of this nation. Which led me to asking if this magnificence was being discussed in the homes and and in the schools and in depth.
When I was in my forties, I spent a period of time doing substitute teaching in junior high and high school. Whenever a regular teacher was sick, I would be called in to "use up" a forty minute period. But I am not built like that. If it were a Social Studies class, for example, (we used to call that History) I would follow my usual method of teaching which was to be merely the catalyst, to get everyone to give an opinion, and to get them to discussing and arguing and agreeing or disagreeing. In a short time many of them would be on their feet giving the high school equivalent of oratory. Some of the regular teachers who returned the next day did not always like this because they had been teaching in a rote method out of the book and suddenly they were presented with a class that had come alive and was now wasting the teacher's time because what they were saying was not in the study schedule.
And so, Sarah T, I thought as I lay in bed a half hour ago: "By God, give me a class of the younger generation for a week." I would spend one day on nothing but "brought upon this earth a new nation" and another day on "the proposition that all men (generic) are created equal" and another day on "of the people" and another day on "by the people" and the final day of the week on "for the people." I would not need a book. I was taught from early childhood to think for myself. I might not always be right but I was always thinking.
Sarah T, I don't hold your generation or younger "in contempt" and I don't think others of my generation do so either. I said in another forum many months ago, and I still believe, that it is my generation that failed. We came home from a world that had been destroyed physically and emotionally to a nation that had been strengthened by the war. We looked at today and forgot about tomorrow. We concentrated on getting jobs, making money, buying homes, and giving our children "what we had not received." And in that rush to give them the material things of which we had been deprived, we neglected to give our children (the Baby Boomers) the moral teachings which our parents had given us even during the hardest of times and perhaps because of those times. The war was over and we didn't have time to discuss in detail the Declaration of Independence, the Golden Rule, and those philosophies which were the underpinnings of the nation for which we had just fought. And so how could the Baby Boomers (now parents) teach their children what they themselves had never received? We had won the war and lost the peace.
Yes, I am painting with a broad brush. Thank God, there are many exceptions but I believe that if those of my generation were (and are) a "great generation," it is not because we won a war but because our parents (survivors of World War I) had helped us to survive the years of the Great Depression, had given us strong moral underpinnings, and because we were blessed to have mighty leaders at that time.
There will be many here who disagree with me but NOW I CAN GET SOME SLEEP !!
"The greatest generation wasn't perfect." Got it? The superlative of GREAT, the GREATEST does not mean PERFECT by any means. The "greatest" people make mistakes. They, we are human beings, after all. "To err is human." (Who said that?) What mistakes did they make?
The folks at home and on the front described by Bill are ordinary people who worked together to achieve something "great" - we are not talking about a generation of well-fed, broad-foreheaded rocket scientists, charismatic leaders,etc. - we're talking about the hard-working, never-say-die, ordinary people who found within the strength to endure when the going got tough. Where did this determination to succeed against all odds come from? Is it now being formed within the kid down the street playing war on his video game? That is the generation we are concerned about today, Sarah - NOT YOUR GENERATION! I think "contempt" is too strong a term for what we've heard here.
The problem, the failing of this generation, according to Tom B., is quite the opposite of expressing contempt ~ keeping silent. Not only about war-time experiences, but keeping silent about injustices in the post-war years - an insular attitude seems to have developed as individual lives were rebuilt, compared to the great joint-effort of the war years. Did you feel that? Is that the "excitement" that seemed to be missing after the great sense of togetherness that developed during the war?
And now Robby brings up another failure, due to this preoccupation, even more serious. We've got a lot to own up to today! It was easier basking in "greatness", wasn't it?
Celebrate this JOYful day, everyone!
Enjoy your day!
He spent a great deal of time with me, fixing everything I broke and just being gentle and kind to me. When I took the bus after school to his home, he was waiting there for me at the bus stop every time. Not necessary but thoughful. When I was older and married, he was always there with advice gently offered. He is one of the many reasons that I love baseball as he did, too. Of all the men that were role models to me, this man was the GREATEST! He was a brilliant philosopher, read constantly and enjoyed his family a great deal. How he would have loved this discussion!
Peace to everyone!!
Our minds run in similar channels. As a matter of fact, I had also laughed at that banner and had to click to see what the site was. Although I own a cat I am not a "cat person" and did not subscribe to the site. But the banner was a "hoot!" When I am not taking the proper action to please my cat, she makes a face like that.
Do you suppose we could get a similar face for the Greatest Generation?
Is it that the former ordinary citizens were "great" because they were related to each other in one way or another? Are present-day citizens "less great" because they follow that well-known expression "do your own thing?"
How does one become a "functioning adult fulfilling adult obligations?"
Some of that original connectedness has been lost, according to Betty. Jerryj reminds us that a culture of individuals and groups no longer describes our world. The age of the mobile family, Phyll believes, was formed in the post-war years and it is difficult to pass on wisdom to children and grandchildren who never really know the older generation. Mal looks forward but does not see the connection of all the parts of the world as yet being made.
Was there a strong "connectedness" between individuals and groups in the pre-World War II years that helped to make that generation "great?" And is that connectedness disappearing?
We have a Discussion Group here in the SN on exactly that subject.
It is listed under SN Index as "Online Communication."
I think this is the greatest generation any society has ever produced...they love each other, love life, and love their country, and they are not afraid to say just that."
Are you in agreement with Brokaw's statement that this generation "loves life, loves its country, and love each other?"
Tom Brokaw, in his introduction to Greatest Generation points out the imperfections" of this generation~
~ they allowed McCarthyism and racism to go unchallenged too longAre these failures due to the post war concentration on retraining, rebuilding (and great accomplishment, by the way) that claimed the attention of many fathers of the next generation? And as Robby pointed out yesterday morning - caused a gap in the communication of many of the core values they themselves had grown up with?
~ husbands resisted the idea that their wives had more to offer than traditional womens' work
~ many of the veterans initially failed to recognize the differences between their war and the one in Vietnam
Of course we are speaking in generalities now, aren't we? Gladys is missing the individual stories that bring us closer to the truth. I am too. Tom Brokaw will bring us many individual accounts in the pages of these two books. Faith and Mal have such vivid memories of the post-war period. I'm sure many of you do too! What was your family life like immediately following the war.? Were you a parent? A minor? Did both parents raise you? Was there good communication and interraction within your family - with both parents?
Do you believe schools are capable of transmitting basic values today? Within your own family, is it impossible for one parent to support his/her family alone? What of Lorrie's comment, "we didn't have much, but we sure had fun." Is it still possible today for folks to have fun with very little?
I, for one, would not want to be considered a part of what is being described as the "World War II" generation. War was certainly a critical point in my life but there was an awful lot more than that in my life - both before the war (my training as a child, Great Depression, etc.) and after the war (education through GI Bill, work, family, etc.). To me "World War II" narrows it down too much.
I, for one, do remember some of the good things that were communicated to me during the 40's. For instance, as I mentioned before, I grew up in a boarding house, grace was said before each meal, and every Sunday, my parents took us to church. When the weather was too much for our 1931 Ford Model A,ie.snow and ice, we would walk. And, they made that fun by Mom and I going one way and my Dad and brother going another, just to see who got there first. After church, on a better day, my dad would drive to the river with a brace and bit and check the ice to see if it was thick enough for us to go skating that afternoon. There were evenings when we visited Lake Sulllivan for the ice skating and the bonfires. During a particularly bad spell one winter, my parents taught us how to play Euchre, just so they had someone to play with. Tee hee!
In the summer, my father helped my brother earn money by letting him park cars in our yard for state fair visitors. One summer, my dad offered our house to a family of five plus a nannie just because the father missed his family and couldn't get into his rented home until fall. So, in a 3 bedroom/1 bath house, we housed this family along with ours(4) plus the nanny for about 6 or 8 weeks. Needless to say, it was a riot! The five kids all slept on the dining room floor with the dog and our parents and the nanny were upstairs. (with the bathrooom). Lucky them!
When my father died in '47, my mother continued to take in roomers plus run our school cafeteria. She also had room for a needy girlfriend of hers. The more I remember of this crazy but fun home, hospitality was the main ingredient at our house. Everyone was welcome!
In reference to the war and rationing, my father took the streetcar to work, just so he could save enough gas stamps to be able to visit relatives on the farms of Indiana over the holidays. My mother worked at the rationing board as a volunteer. We saved money for bonds from our paper routes. We collected old pots and pans, tinfoil and newspapers for the scrap pile at school. We helped to separate donated clothing for destitute people in Europe. No one can beat a good example for teaching the next generation.
Yesterday you mentioned that you hear from your son maybe once a year. I felt so sad - for you, for me. I'm trying to get used to the fact that our once very close family, is no longer that as the four boys grow up and leave home. My friends tell me it's because they are boys. That girls stay close to their mothers no matter the distance - that girls set the brothers straight early on. Now I wouldn't know anything about girls, but it doesn't make me feel any better about having them so far away (so far they didn't even think of picking up the phone and saying "Happy Easter, Mom!") My husband thinks I'm over-reacting...
I think of myself as a member of the "silent generation", more like my father than like my Boomer siblings. What a difference 5-7 years make! My father was the hard-working quiet man described earlier here. Our post-war situation was rough compared to the period of prosperity all around.
I think all of our stories will be a bit different, but we will find some underlying similarities. My mother died of TB in July, 1945. I was seven. I have three younger brothers and a younger sister. My father was an only child himself and knew virtually nothing about running a household. But he was a man of this greatest generation. He raised us, singlehandedly, one day at a time - the best he could. Unlike Lorrie, we had nothing but we also had no fun - with him! Each day was a new ...challenge. He never spoke to us of values, his childhood - he assumed that the nuns at school would take care of that department.
The one thing he did was make us write - and write and write! There was never a homework assigned essay that made it through inspection on the first try. We got to the point where we didn't even write them in ink, because we knew they'd only have to be done again. We all have good handwriting. But nowhere as fine as his! His mother, my grandmother, had saved all his theme books from when he was a child. Everything was perfect - not even an ink smudge. Remember ink? Remember trying to erase ink with the white ink eraser? I always erased right through the paper and of course, I had to do it all over again! Is it an improvement to have the delete button? Copy and paste?
I taught school a few years ago and during a test, the girls would rummage in their purses looking for the little bottle of white-out to correct errors Amazing!
When I went away to college, my dad wrote to me every week. Once a month he would send me a check for $25 (which lasted about a week) - I knew what he went without to send me that check! I didn't save his letters, but when I married and moved away, he continued to write to me instead of telephone and those letters meant the world to me. I still have the last one he wrote before he died.
How do those letters compare to the emails that fly through our family communications? They don't. His letters were carefully crafted to express what he was feeling at the time. No dashed off, unedited phrases meant to convey information as quickly as possible. It seems that he communicated feelings better in writing than in converstation. Me too.
Do you have any old letters or samples of your own or your parents' handwriting? Letters were more than communications, they were keepsakes. I know I sound as if I'm "wallowing" in sentimentality now, but those letters are also history, as Tom Brokaw mentions in the Introduction. How much letterwriting goes on today? Do you print out and save particularly interesting or moving emails? Is this new way of communication always better than the old? I hear you all speak of the letters that flew back and forth during the war? Did you save any? Do you know where they are today?
I've always loved Ann's boarding house stories. They seem perfect for a weekly TV series (actually I was thinking radio - the past is catching up with me!) Phyll, the ordinary people who rose to the occasion and got the job done, those are the ones I think of as "the greatest"! And the men who built the country back up who are faulted for being focussed elsewhere - they taught as much by the example of hard work for a cause. Many of the values we discussed were taught by example as well as by words, as Ann's father, uncle and grandfather did. I think it's important to remember that! What the greatest did however, was maintain the ostrich position when it came to important issues - such as racial injustice. And you know, this example is communicated to youthful ears and eyes as well...
Mal, I DO remember squeezing the yellow dye in the lard in some sort of bag. That was my job!
I wonder if young people today write "Dear JOhn" emails? I wouldn't be surprised! Did you save any of the pile of letters from Bill? I'm really interested in learning if we SNetters have a stash of old letters somewhere.
Joan, what a tribute to your father who apparently was in my generation. He raised 3 boys and 2 girls singlehandedly. You are entitled to "wallow in sentimentality." He appears to have had "greatness thrust upon him" as Phyll points out in quoting Shakespeare and came through with flying colors.
Gladys, you taught ballroom dancing!! I still dance occasionally (obviously not as well as you) and in two weeks will be learning the "Tango Waltz." I know how to dance the tango but never heard of the Tango Waltz. Please tell us more about your dancing memories. And the importance of letters -- Betty explains it well when she speaks of letters as "real life slices" such as Mal's "Dear John" letter. Letters could transmit happiness and unhappiness. As for Round Robin letters, perhaps MaryPage could tell us a bit more about that technique.
Faith describes the years 1941 to 1948 in her life as the "maturing years" where "lessons were learned by necessity." Here again "greatness being thrust upon us." She also wonders if that generation with a "depression mentality" was "two-faced about money, sex, and religion." What do the rest of you think concerning that?
As you were born in 1923, Joan will undoubtedly be adding you to the list above of Senior Net's Greatest. Thank you for sharing and we are looking forward to hearing more from you.
Concerning the Round Robin, I'm sure others here will take the approach of the commercial: "Try it, you'll like it."
Joan, glad you like my boarding school stories but my point was that my parents did give a good example of homelife and kindness to others. I was so interested in Mal's? saying she thought the parents in the 50's didn't do such a good job of that. That they gave mixed signals to the children. That's is so true! We were trying to do the right thing but we had more than our parents and grandparents ever had. We let go of the the reins!! as my husband is sooooo fond of saying! The schools didn't back up the parents, the parents didn't back up the teachers and the churches didn't have a clue. They changed also. Confusion abounded! The tripod of parents, school, and church that had supported the next generation for many decades had broken legs! It seemed that the American scene changed a great deal. Maybe having to struggle during the 20's and 30's and 40's was good for the souls of our families? I don't know! Anyway, here we are, trying to figure it out!
My book arrived, the Next Generation, and I hope to enjoy it as much as the first one. Sorry that Jerryj didn't like the books. Nice of him to offer his copy to anyone who might want it.
I love the Round Robin idea and have thought of doing it with emails,too. What a treasure to own! I have many letters from my daughter about her struggles of early marriage. You wouldn't believe them! She and her husband(an old Hippie) were so poor but had such a great sense of humor. The stories that they wrote to us are still here in a box. I intend to give the box to her daughter someday. Wish I had saved all the many letters that I received over the years from my mother, my aunts and my grandmother. My gmother wrote such super letters and I have only saved one, which is a hoot. I envy you ladies who were smart enough to keep all of that memoribillia. Its a priceless treasure! Oh, and I forgot to mention that I received incredible letters each holiday from my father's brother. He was a wonderful letter writer,too.
I love your analogy of a tripod (parents, school, church) which now has broken legs. Can they be repaired? Any suggestions here -- perhaps based upon what made the legs strong during the earlier generations?
"If how we speak and how we write are how we define ourselves, then the world is certainly a poorer place if a good hand has joined the ranks of things past, hardly, if ever, to be seen again."
Penmanship in Today's School
Most American educators believe that young children are not ready to do cursive writing until third grade because they lack muscle coordination. But European children learn cursive in first grade. Do they have better muscle control?
My son at age 7 went to second grade in a Swiss school and learned to do cursive quickly; he kept many school notebooks all in cursive.
The Post article pointed out that by the time children start cursive in third grade it is difficult to evoke real interest because they often already are into computer keyboards.
By delaying the introduction of cursive we are depriving our children of an enriching experience. The joy of forming letters for a 6-year-old could even lead to many other skills and fields of knowledge such as painting, drawing, reading and writing music and writing in a foreign language.
Delaying cursive is another example of how schools fail to teach children what they are capable of doing."
As for first drafts being typewritten. I gave up hand writing years ago. I do a considerable amount of creative writing and become impatient with doing it by hand. My hand is too slow for my mind. I am a fast typist and pour it out as I think it. I used to do this on a typewriter and am so pleased now that with a computer I can immediately modify words and phrases as I move along.
I wonder if the writer of that article is from an older generation and has not kept up with us young people.
In what way are you "backing up." Exactly what did that 19-year old say?
Do you (and others here) believe the younger generations are paying any attention to the actions of that generation which is being described as "greatest?"
Maryal, all of us who know you would describe you as an excellent listener. You know, I think that would be an excellent way to communicate some of these basic values to the young...to listen to them. But first, we have to make ourselves available to them...
About learning to face adversity - I think the first step is "accountability". Is accountability to authority something that has fallen by the wayside?
Our task in the coming weeks of discussion of the individual stories, it seems to me, is to examine the values overlooked in the rebuilding process, decide what would profit the present generation and then try to come up with ways to pass them on - and how to get the attention of the youngest generation! Think of the power of our numbers!
That's the very reason Tom Brokaw published his second book of letters, The Greatest Generation Speaks, ("letters written in firm Palmer method penmanship")- to get the message out, to draw attention to what this "greatest" generation has been so reluctant to discuss in the past. Perhaps we should be thinking of publishing this discussion? (With a good editor perhaps) Are you thinking of questions you'd like to submit to Tom Brokaw? Just include them in a post any time! We are scooping them up as you do that.
We're going to move very slowly through the books too, so don't feel you must cover-to-cover them all at once. They will simply drive the discussion of what you remember and feel about this greatest generation!
WELCOME TO MARY KOERNER and ARBOR! Please make yourself at home with us! We look forward to hearing from you in the days ahead.
The confidence you all are expressing in the coming generation is reassuring. This is the famous optimism about the future, one step at a time, that Tom Brokaw speaks about in his book. Our task then? To make that future even better by speaking up, speaking out, opening the inter-generational dialog that will, hopefully, pass on the best of the greatest kept silent far too long! Keep on. We are really getting someplace here, unearthing some valuable lessons that need to be heard...
ps. Gladys, we mothers of sons have to stick together. Shall we write a book about what it's like when sons leave home?
pps. Mal, I've been meaning to ask, what's a "peplum"?
Yes, I agree that there is ahead of us a new society which will also be great. Would you, however, expand a bit on your comment that the old lessons were not applicable to the world of the Fifties?
P.S. Phyll: Send me an e-mail when you are next in wonderful Warrenton and we'll have lunch.
What causes people to feel strongly about flying the American flag?
No charge !!
Katie & DenverD, we will write this ASMC book soon! I have yet to come across any "help" books on the subject- when boys grow up and leave home!!!
Katie, I agree with you about blanket statements - blanket thinking! Logic 101! No all, never, always... Let's try to speak from our own experiences and we'll be fine - without the blanket statements. Where there is patriotism and optimism for the future expressed in one part of the country is not the case in in all areas - (consider the growing inner-city ghettos, where (some) kids are growing up with no guidance - hope)
Is it my imagination or is the expression of patriotism on the rise - in many parts of the country? Since the Vietnam wall went up in DC, the presence of the Vets of that war on Veterans
Day has increased dramatically here in DC. Seeing those guys, dressed in combat uniforms, marching - heads high - this brings tears...the Rolling Thunder motorcyclists come roaring in - hundreds of them making their presence felt - wearing jackets with "When I die I'll go to heaven - 'cause I've been to hell and back!" But that was a different war. These are the sons & daughters of the "greatest" who had their mettle tested...
Faith, that was a wonderful post - and you certainly make the point -
1 - Many of life's lessons are outmoded.
2 - Many of life's lessons come from the Old Country.
3 - Prohibiton (we haven't been discussing that here so far).
4 - Many of us have had an agrarian "mind set."
5 - New customs are needed but are not yet in place.
6 - Giving children feeling of guilt on such items as "package mix."
7 - Home sex education has often been a deception.
8 - Need new types of psychology to assist in the ethics dilemma.
9 - Changing roles is the norm; catching up to change is the dilemma.
1 - Mistake to ask one group to impart wisdom to the wisdom-less.
2 - We have not been commenting sufficiently on "good" items such as advances for women.
3- Schools have come a long way.
4 - A framework of hierarchy here does not promote a trusting give and take.
You are all a wonderful group. And to think, we are just starting!!
First of all we all have the right to disagree here - 'as along as we don't become disagreeable while doing it'- as a wise psychologist said to me very recently! I'm going to pleasantly disagree with a few of Betty's conclusions here, because I honestly didn't get the feeling from either the book or the posts that they were the case. (I admit things often get by me, so help me out here if I'm "off")..
~ "if one group is being encouraged to call up wisdom to impart to the wisdom-less" (I don't believe that this was expressed or implied anywhere, but may be wrong...)Let's ask the hard questions NOW and all day long! And all through the discussion!
~" T Brokaw implies that there is something about the generations today that need to be fixed" - (implies perhaps that generations could stand improvement in some areas? Do we assume that any generation is "perfect"?)
~ "the assumption (flawed?) that a particular generation has some discovered truths to impart." - (is that flawed? thinking - that truths arrived at through experience are worth expression?)
~ "In my imagination, I do see some things that might be of great interest to talk over." Those are exactly the things that we want to talk over, aren't they?
~ But this framework of hierarchy does not promote feeling connected, does not promote a trusting give and take." This is a strong statement and though I find it puzzling in several ways, find it important enough to do something about it NOW
~ Do you believe there are fundamental lessons to be learned from the life experience of the generation that came of age in WWII?
~What is the premise of Tom Brokaw's book?
~ What questions would you ask Tom Brokaw if he were here today?
A most stimulating presentation of "change." I am not surprised at your attitude of flowing with the tide and growing less nervous as I see your regular postings in the discussion group, Seniors View the Future.
Mal says "Much that bothers people now has happened before." Nothing new under the sun?? What do the rest of you think?
When I was in high school, History was not my favorite subject - Battle of Hastings was 1066, etc. etc. Then after I was "out in the world" a bit, I started reading Gibbons' "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." I was intrigued!! Why? Because everyone in the stories reminded me of my co-workers, the people next door, and even family members. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. (I just had to show off my French, didn't I?)
And I just had another odd thought. We still have that great gap where there are, indeed, many people benefiting from the stock market but there are also still millions of poverty stricken people. Those suffering people -- are they building stronger characters than those with the millions?
Probably has nothing to do with Great Generation but it made me wonder.
Does anyone here see a shared purpose taking place in the current generation as compared to what many of us felt during the Depression and the War?
If you do not believe that it takes adversity to build strength and character, what do you consider the source?
And, no one person is going to handle his/her problems the same way. So, yes, the previous generations do have some good things to impart to the present generations. If I didn't believe this, I wouldn't have left my sunny home in Georgia to return to cloudy Ohio to be near my grandchildren. My reason was that all children need to know their grandparents. So, I must value what I have learned over the years. Not everyone suffered abuse and not everyone has felt disenfranchised. Even though I may look at certain things differently now, I still think that I have important ideals and morals to pass on to the next generation. Accountability being one of them!! A word that I have had taped to my frig for 40 years. What is that old saying? As you sow, so shall you reap!
Barbara defines what went on during the Depression and the War as a "larger than life purpose" as compared to what she sees today as "pockets of shared purpose." Even in those pockets she emphasizes the difference betwen protesting and a "unifying" coming together.
Ann values what she has learned over the years -- one trait being accountability. What are your reactions to her strong feeling that "all children need to know their grandparents?"
Would you please expand on your comment that "ethics and morals seem to change with individual reasoning?"
I'm a psychologist. I don't have answers; I just ask questions.
I know about Betty. That's why I kidded back.
Again the word "together", this time from Lorrie - laughing, crying, and arguing together. Did the lack of conveniences then bring families together and does the explosion of conveniences now separate them? Is the young generation being "killed with kindness?"
I believe there is a direct connection between togetherness and morals & ethics. Morals and ethics are, in my opinion, taught through behavior and not by words whether they be written or oral. Yes, one can be influenced by reading the Old Masters and one can be influenced by hearing someone like Dr. Martin Luther King but such influence is not necessarily lasting.
But watching one's parents or guardians day after day and night after night pounds lessons into young heads. And this can be so negatively as well. One can grow up amoral after seeing a parent acting in this fashion. I shared in an earlier posting about immediately stopping my short term period of shop lifting after the store owner considered notifying my father. Here again was togetherness -- community togetherness. How often we have heard about city neighborhoods where the elders sat by the upstairs windows and watched the behavior on the streets of other people's children. The children couldn't "escape" this positive environment. In a sense they had no choice. The only way they could be "bad" would be to go far away where they could lead separate lives.
There may, as Mal says, still be family togetherness in certain homes but, as far as I can tell, community togetherness is dissipating.
....there are common traits that cannot be denied. It is a generation that, by and large, made no demands of homage from those who followed and prospered.......It is a generation of towering achievement and modest demeanor...
a time of national promise, optimism and prosperity, when all things seemed possible as the United States was swiftly taking its place as the most powerful nation in the world. World War I was over, America's industrial might was coming of age with the rise of the auto industry , etc.
The young Americans of this time constituted a generation birthmarked for greatness, a generation of Americans that would take its place in American history with the generations that had converted the North American wilderness into the United States and infused the new nation with self-determination embodied first in the Declaration of Independence and then in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Gladys, there will be much celebrating when your book finally arrives! Many of you seem to have one or the other on hand. We have been reading the introductory chapters of both books for discussion. If you have just received your book, please don't feel you have to rush through it. We will be moving through The Greatest Generation chapter by chapter, taking related stories and letters from Greatest Generation Speaks as we go...
"A generation that made no demands of homage from those who followed and prospered economically, politically and culturally because of its sacrifices."The chapter on "Generations" should start to open up some memories before we start the individual stories. We'd love to hear yours!
A generation of towering achievement and modest demeaner
A generation that made enduring contributions that transcend gender - raised the place of their gender to new heights and changed forever the perception and the reality of women in all disciplines of American life."
Will talk when I get home. Love Gingee
I am from that generation. As we approached the birth of our first child, I attended a course entitled Expectant Fathers being given by the Visiting Nurses Association. Using dolls, I learned how to change diapers (no Pampers then), burp the child, bathe it, feed it, hold its head properly, etc. After he was born as well as after the birth of our second child, I did all those things. I still have the certificate given by the Association. Where does that put me?
Katie suggests that our ideas of homelife are based on childhood. Your thoughts?
No question that your childhood exemplifies adversity. At what point did you "escape" that type of homelife and how did you do it?
A most inspirational story !!
First things first! Our newest addition to the future generation, and hopefully the "greatest"! Noah Sander Alden was born at 7:30 this morning! His thrilled grandma, Ann, will probably not be joining us today! We are so happy for you, Ann! Feel like a great aunt, although Ann calls me a "grandma by proxy"...
Speaking of babies, can't you just see our Robby practicing burping that doll! What a guy...(not at all like my own husssss) Keep in your mind that this is a returning WWII Vet, one of those fathers we are looking at closely today.
What especially struck me was that Carolyn Heilbrun had her book published at age 70. Now there's a role model!
My second son was full of wim and wigor. While being fed his Pablum, he would swing both arms around while turning his head back and forth. So I developed a technique. He would sit somewhat sideways - I would pin his left arm between my left arm and my body and press tight - with my left hand I would hold his right arm - and my right arm would guide (haha) the spoon into his mouth. He apparently ate well as he was soon put on skim milk!! Changing his diaper was also interesting -- learning how to quickly cover his loins with another diaper so as not to receive the "fountain of youth." So many memories!!
I spent much of this morning reading Greatest Generation Speaks. Many of you have received that book and know that it is a collection of letters written to Tom Brokaw by the WWII generation in response to the publication of The Greatest Generation . For many of these letter-writers, this is the first time they have expressed their memories of the war and post-war...
It is my hope that each of us feels that urge - to express long -buried memories ~ to get them down on paper...(or word-processor) as this discussion brings them back - out in the open. Not only is this therapeutic - it's an important, true story, a record of how things really were - beyond the few paragraphs in the history books! Even if it's a letter here in a post - print it out, save it. If you don't have a printer, ask and we'll copy and mail it to you!
It is not easy to get the "greatest" to speak - because the "greatest" generation is made up of ordinary people - who accomplished the "extraordinary." It's the ordinary stories that demonstrate the "extraordinary" life you led! Let's start today!
Robby, having diapered 4 sons, I know that of which you speak!!!
I may not have this right but was it Jefferson who said: "Freedom comes at the price of eternal vigilence?" As you indicate, the younger generation may be more vigilant than we were.
When I was taught diapering with a doll, they didn't tell us about the "fountain of youth." I had to learn through adversity.
It is surprising how many of us are sharing memories of unfortunate...(disfunctional?) childhoods. What idea of homelife did we grow up with? Mal?
I didn't mention something yesterday. Something pretty important - to me. My father didn't raise me immediately following my mother's death. I was sent immediately to "boarding school" for three years. My father and his mother coped with the four younger ones at home. This was 1945. The school was packed with little girls. I never asked them where their families were, as I recall.
When I was 10, then I came home to mother the brood. My brother, born in 1945 was raised by his father, who worked full time and his 10 yr. old sister. What was this Boomer's idea of home life? How did he turn out? Well, he is a psychologist! <<VBG>> He married once, had a daughter and divorced after two years of marriage.
When I was 13 I volunteered on Saturdays in an orphanage. I clearly remember my first day there. I opened the door of a big room full of two year olds. Some of them saw me and began to come at me crying with open arms..."Mama" and after a few seconds I had the entire room flocking to me. Don't remember how I handled it. Just remember the open arms and crying...
I hope they all turned out to become the beautiful caring adult that is our Ella! You've never met a more charming, smiling, caring person!
Do you know what I think happened with the three of us, Mal? We grew up with no model at all. So we invented our own ideal of a woman, a happy home life and loving should be - we invented ourselves! We aren't embittered toward anyone in particular - like an abusive or repressive parent. We can however, be disappointed when the dream that is our model - turns out not quite as we hoped - expected. But why should it? It's the ideal - too perfect! But I think deep in our hearts we know that too...
What's my point? As Katie also pointed out, we can't make blanket statements about any generation. An average family is only that...there are extremes that bring about that average. There is a norm though - common threads, beliefs, goals, held by many (most) members of a generation ..and those are what we are looking for here....
Back in five! (I told you I had a bushel basket this morning!)
In case you don't have the books, in the introduction to The Greatest Generation, TB writes:
"These men and women came of age in the Great Depression, when economic despair hovered over the land like a plague. They had watched their parents lose their businesses, their farms, their jobs, their hopes."And then he goes on to comment about the adult lives of this generation...when the war was over...
"THey weren't perfect. They made mistakes. They allowed McCarthyism and racism to go unchallenged for too long. Women of the WWII generation, who had demonstrated so convincingly that they had so much more to offer beyond their traditional work, were the underpinning for the liberation of their gender, even as many of their husbands resisted the idea.."Brokaw does mention Prohibition - starting when this child of the greatest generation was still very much a child...
No one is saying you can't mention your particular situation, Faith You and I have done that ...Tom Brokaw has told his. We each have but one story in the many we are about to read. There is no cover-up going on. But we have to realize our stories are not the norm. I don't think that many of the greatest generation married at 14. That's probably not the norm. I imagine your husband was older. The fact that he was controlling is really not too surprising. I am happy and relieved for you that he was a good father.
What Tom Brokaw is saying - despite the mistakes - in his estimation, this is still the greatest generation. And he really believes that. He says in the introduction to the Greatest Generation Speaks~ that he believes this and writes it, not only as a tribute to his parents - "teachers and ministers, coaches and merchants, mothers and fathers of my friends - all who had experienced great hardship during the Depression and the war years."
I say, let the generation speak and stop quibbling about the word "greatest" which Tom Brokaw obviously believes with all his heart! Let's talk about it at the end of the discussion. We've probably said about as much about it as we can for now.
I do want to talk about something you said a few days ago, Faith, something that was the norm...and one of the mistakes of your generation...
ps. Mal, I can't thank you for your understanding ear and sisterhood. The easy-going husband is a similar dream we shared!
The period before the Depression in which the child of this generation grew up is one of economic prosperity, sounding very much like the one we are experiencing today, doesn't it? (even with Prohibition going on....) What do you remember of those years? Do you remember an abrupt change when the Depression hit?
What happened to the wives and families of the homeless, unemployed men "drifting across the continent" looking for work? To you? Do you remember these men?
Of course you belong here!! Your comments are most important. If it seems that we change course and don't seem to know where we are going, it's for that very reason -- we don't know where we are going!! The "conclusion" will make itself evident without our even realizing how we got there. The voyage is often more stimulating, relevant, and important than the destination.
No, Joan, the prosperity after WWI was not like the prosperity now. Without getting too much into the science of economics, WWI veterans bought many stocks on margin -- they borrowed a buck here and a buck there in the hopes of bringing in the family bread and perhaps making a killing. Then came the crash and the creditors called their debts home. It was absolutely impossible for the majority of those who had gambled to pay their debts hence the stories of men jumping out of windows. Today we have many very young people - "kids" - jumping on the electronic bandwagon and taking much less of a chance than in the 1925-1929 period.
I would like to add that something very wonderful is happening in this Discussion Group. Participants are sharing personal stories that they have probably have not shared with their neighbors or even family members. There is a strong bonding going on here. Perhaps similar to the bonding that existed in Depression years.
Robby - what you describe here sounds an awful lot like what's going on here with our twenty-somethings thinking they can become instant millionaires, borrowing money to buy stock on the Internet (Day Traders) and maxed to the limit on credit cards..
Tell what it was like for you growing up before the Depression that is different from today. Were you secure, well-fed and reasonably happy with no real concerns about what the future might bring?
My parents had a kitchen kerosene range. It was nice looking, had four burners and an oven, but the danger of fire was ever present in our minds. On the back of the range was a kerosene tank. To start the range, the burner was primed manually with a "shot" of gasoline. A metal stick was dipped into the burner, the wet end was lit, and placed back into the burner. The flame was as hot as any gas stove and my mother did some wonderful cooking on it. Unfortunately, the flame sometimes got too high and out of control. Because pouring water on it would have made it worse, it was necessary to dash out the back door with a spade, bring back a shovel full of dirt, and throw it on the burner. This, of course, put out the flame but required a two-hour cleaning job before the stove culd be used again.
”On June 6TH-56 years after America sent her best and brightest to the beaches of Normandy--the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans will open it doors to the world. It’s the only museum in the nation dedicated to the single-most decisive event of the 20th century, the invasion of Normandy by Britain, Canada, and the Unitd States.” This is America’s tribute to the men who made the invasion possible”
”The grand opening will be a grand affair. The day will start with a major parade from the museum to the New Orleans Arena where some 15,000 visitors will fill it. Scheduled dignitaries include Viscount Montgomery from England and Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster. Defense Secretary William Cohen is tentatively slated to speak to the group. Tom Brokaw will act as master of ceremonies. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks plan to attend. France will send a frigate. National news networks will cover the event live. The worlds eyes will be on the museum”
Of course there is much more in the article, but this will let you readers know of that great museum and the wonderfull event planed in the rememberance of D-Day.
As we had no electricity, a kerosene lamp was placed in each room. When more light was required for reading or sewing, the room would be brightened by bringing lamps in from other rooms. I was taught early how to light or extinguish the lamps and how to trim the wicks. I studied by kerosene lamp until the 6th grade.
For my early years we had the outdoor toilet. People nowadays joke about Sears Roebuck catalogs in outhouses but this is part of my memory. We did, however, have one modern convenience. We had a telephone which was the type one sees today only in museums -- a tall black column with the speaker protruding on top and the receiver hanging on the side. There was no dial tone, of course -- the operator answered, "Number please?" Numbers did not even have exchanges much less area codes.<>P>The road contained an equal amount of automobiles and horses and wagons. The road was paved with tar but one also had to watch the horse droppings. Once a week the oil man came along with his spigoted tanks. We would leave empty glass gallon jugs outside with tags attached to their necks and he would fill them with gasoline or kerosene as needed.
Bill, are you going to the opening? Say hello to Tom for all of us! I remember Art telling us about the museum a few days ago...here is his post:
"In the chapter in the Greatest Generation titled Leonard "Bud" Lomel, the author wrote that Lomel a First Sergeant was in command of the Ranger platoon because his lieutenant had been reassigned just a few days before the invasion. That was a terrific responsibility to place on Lomel and the others in the platoon. It is my understanding that a museum will be opened soon in New Orleans at the site where the Higgins boats were built to commemorate D-Day. Hope that Bud Lomel will be invited to the ceremonies."We'll be reading about Bud Lomel soon.. it would be great if he and Tom get together again. He was one of the first people interviewed for the Greatest Generation
I think that once we get into individual stories of the pre/post war days, our own individual stories will start again, Bill. Have you looked over the questions in the heading? Today we are looking to learn what life was like for this "greatest" generation before the Depression hit. It sounds as if the booming prosperity was not for all - Do you remember an abrupt change in your circumstances when the Depression hit? Do you remember the "armies" of unemployed drifters across America looking for work or handouts? Where were their families? Where were you?
Water pipes had now been laid in the road so now we had running water in the recently installed bathroom, but only cold water. It was to be some years before a hot water heater was installed so it was still necessary to boil water and pour it into the tub. Cold water would be added to this boiling water and I could take a luxurious bath in two inches of water. We could, however, go to the toilet in the way "civilized" people do.
My father and I liked to sing. He and I would often harmonize together as we sang "Oh, some folks say that a nigger don't steal; but I caught one in my cornfield - way down - way down - way down yonder in the cornfield." (That was a popular barbershop quartet song in those days.) Somehow when we sang it, it was OK, thinking only of the harmony of the song and not the harmony of the races. There's no way that I would use that word today even in a song but everyone who liked to sing harmony sang the song. It was wrong and I know it now but I am trying to emphasize how we are all captives of the society and times in which we live and are not able to get outside it to objectively examine what we are doing.
Life was VERY VERY different 70 years ago and today's generation will not be able to understand how we thought and how we acted if they try to measure us by today's yardstick.
My mother died in 1930 and I was speaking of the 1926-27 years before that. In addition, I was in a rural area and that might have had something to do with it.
Yes, each generation looks at the world through its own glasses. Do you, and others here, think it will be possible for the current generations to understand the 1920s and 1930s? Will it be by just reading words? Hopefully, we are making history live.
You say that "you" are a great generation but if you were born in 1925, you are part of it. The Depression was a part of your life as well. Please continue to share.
People of different religious persuasions, for example, tended to congregate together - often for protection, either physical or emotional. The draft in the 1940s changed that and changed that IMMEDIATELY. To be drafted into the military meant not only to be wrenched away from home but to be thrown into a true melting pot. The guy in the bunk next to yours might have had an entirely different economic and/or religious background. That is not to say we liked it. There were many fist fights but the exigencies of war said: "Do it, dogface, whether you like it or not." A popular song of that time told the story -- "You're in the Army, Mr. Jones."
I should add, to our nation's shame, that this melting pot did not include a black-white mixture.
"As I look back now, I realize that my time in the Army was the happiest time of my life, not because I liked the Army, and God knows there was nothing to like about a war, but I liked it because I was YOUNG! I didn't particularly like the guys I hung out with, but you know what? Today I love every damn one of them" - Neil Simon, playwright.
An excellent idea! Absorbing what Tom Brokaw is saying and then, in the tried and true American way, agreeing or not agreeing based upon your personal experiences.
I am baby sitting for the little ones until the newest comes home with mommy. He is so cute!
Harry: You are indeed fortunate having never been hungry during the Great Depression or wounded during the war.
BobC: Thank you so much for sharing those horrible memories. We need to be reminded of those times.
LOSALBERN: You just escaped having had to land on the beach in Japan. What a miracle.
Blue Knight 1: Very interesting that you guided young Brokaw in an assignment. Will you share some more about that?
WillieHickory: Welcome. You have pointed out that only when one, as a parent, sees the possibility of a child going to war is the horror of it understood.
COME BACK, EVERYONE. There's lots for us to share with each other!!!
Thanks for making the 1920s and 1930s live for us. I know I lived through that but it seems so long ago.
You have brought another dimension to our discussion. Please share more with us about your experiences in Japan.
If you husband was born in 1926, he also is one of those to be listed in our own GG list above.
You are all so welcome! I'm sure Tom Brokaw will be trolling your posts for his next book!
Harry Nadim, bobc, Minnie! Pull up some chairs! We need to hear more from you! Minnie, we will be opening separate discussions within this folder; perhaps "the Books of World War II" would be of interest? We've heard of quite a few veterans of WWII who have written of their experiences recently - during our discussion of The"Good" War. Faith, you might be interested in another discussion analyzing women's views -which you mentioned yesterday - "Greatest Women of our Generation"?
Sallie, Sissie, Anne B, Midschsec678(may we call you, Middy?) Welcome! We look forward to hearing from you often!
"Lucky" Losalbern, Perkln, Willie Hickory, Welcome! "Deprivation is when we learn we actually have character." Do you think, Willie, that many of the "greatest" learned they had character coming through the Depression before the war ever started? So many of you young fellas were so eager to get into the war after Pearl Harbor without the fear one would expect...or was there a lot of fear we don't read about?
Blue Knight, I'm sure young Tom Brokaw will remember his first field assignment in the San Fernando Valley...You sound like so many of our posters - poor but didn't know it! How many of today's poor can say the same, do you think?
Intrepid, EarlPearl we know you have some stories to tell...WELCOME!
Suntaug, welcome back, good friend from The "Good" War discussion. Fahter Coughlin of Chicago certainly made a name for himself - he's reverberating today all the way back to the discussion of the medieval Canterbury Tales...
The basic premise of Tom Brokaw's books is the importance of YOUR common experience - for future generations. So, speak up, we are ALL EARS! Again, welcome from all of us.
Some of you have mentioned Pearl Harbor? What do you remember the news of Pearl Harbor? How did you hear about it? How did your life change? (This question is for you too, Gladys - and anyone else abroad at the time?
What are your memories of Pearl Harbor and the days that followed?
Let's not be angry. As a cross section of the population plus being from an older group that has formed its opinions over the years, we naturally find outselves disagreeing at times. But here in Senior Net we have found it productive to at times disagree but not in a disagreeable way. Folks in various Discussion Groups across the SN have gotten used to hearing me say: "Issues, not personalities."
Brokaw's book has much to address but in a friendly constructive way.
Thanks for that "human interest" story of your father-in-law and husband enlisting on the same day. Either your husband was very young to enlist or your father-in-law was older than the usual GIs.
There is no nicer time for a soldier to read a letter from a GIRL(!) than when is in the hospital. Beats medication and surgery every time!
Please tell us why your father received the French Legion of Honor. How did that come about?
Your comment about seeing fires of sinking ships and flotsam washing ashore calls vividly to our attention how close the war came to the United States. It was not always thousands of miles away.
Some of the more light-hearted radio programs I can thing of were (and rather than make a long list I’ll just type them as I go along): “Fiber McGee and Molly” that gave me a lot of laughs, especially there full cupboards, or was that from another show. “The Goldbergs,” George Burns and Gracie Allen, Jack Benny and Mary Livingston, Ed Wynn. Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.
There were some drama type programs, also. Cecil B De Mills’ “Lux Presents Hollywood.” --great, huh. “Little Theater Off Times Square” with Don Amechee (good evening Mr. and Mrs. First-Niter, smoking in the outer lobby only please). Kate Smith. We all waited for her closing song “God Bless America, Land that I love....” There was a commercial at the time, I don’t know what radio show had it : Johnny the page boy would call out “Call for Philip Morris.” “Gangbusters” and “Sing, Sing” with Warden E. Laws.
Some of the light hearted movies: Ginger Rogers and Fred Astair. The plots were corny, but the dancing was excellent. The Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour’s “Road To...” movies. Let us not forget how Hope would entertain the troops.
The comic short subject movies of the time: The Three Stooges, The Bumpsteads (Blonde and Dagwood). And, of course, Laurel and Hardy. I saw a documentary in the mid 50s that told of Stan Laurel being a Master Comedian and comedians from all over the world would seek his advice on how to improve their act or show. I’m sure a lot of you can think of a lot more of these old time radio shows and movies.
You bring back so many memories. The family often gathered around the radio in the 30s and 40s, didn't it?
Seven children raised by one woman who suddenly found herself a "war widow." Heroics comes in many forms.
Mary Page, I feel I am with you tiptoe-ing past Grandma's lookout post and can feel her pain as she tells you about Pearl Harbor. Those "feelings" are what make this discussion come alive... So many stories of so many in the same family on the front! As a mother, my heart goes out to the mothers - who"packed" them off...BUT THEY DID IT!
Ella- such on-the spot information on the WASPS! I'm beginning to understand that these brave women were not officially sanctioned by the War Dept. and so that when it came time for the Veterans' benefits after the war, the GI Bill, etc, they still weren't officially recognized. Still - not bringing their bodies home...
The same Gen. Westmoreland! I know we're going to hear more from our WWII Vets on the Vietnam War as we get into the discussion...
Annafair, I'm glad you finally received your book!We have been discussing the introductiory pages in both books for the last two weeks...- There are more discussion questions for your consideration over these pages up in the heading behind the
Your memories are making this period live and hopefully are bringing back more of them from others!
MaryPage: Isn't memory amazing that you can pull out of your mind such minute details of what you wore almost 60 years ago?
Ella: Regarding Westmoreland, I met him prior to the Vietnam War when I was a Scout Executive with the B.S.A. and he was a guest speaker. I can always remember his making a comment about intelligence and emotions when he said: "I'd rather be an ill-adjusted egghead than a well-adjusted blockhead." Draw your own conclusions.
Marguerite: Can you tell us more about your sister who was in the French Forces of the Interior (FFI)? They were so much help directly and indirectly to the Allied Forces.
Annafair: How tough that must have been on your parents having three sons in the service. Are you willing to share more about your brother Milton who required rehabilitation?
Yankee: You quote "best of time and worst of times" from Tale of Two Cities (French Revolution) but add that it is also applicable to World War II. Would you expand a bit on to why you also see WWII as the "best of times?"
I haven't played Hearts in years. I was one of those who always tried to get them all.
MaryPage, was I asleep during one of your previous postings? I didn't know you could pilot a plane!! (Someone in our November gathering in Chicago was a pilot. Who was that, Joan?)
The remainder of your posting was devoted to what you called "rampant male chauvinism" of that generation. Others who have posted previously have commented on this. I cannot let this topic go by without commenting on it. I believe I have the standing to do so because 1)I lived in those times and 2) I am a male and cannot be considered partial. Yes, people of the younger generation who are listening to this discussion, it is true, in my opinion, and some of us males (not all) have hopefully evolved and are ashamed of our previous attitudes.
Those events that MaryPage describes brings back memories. It was almost impossible for Red Cross women to bring doughnuts to the troops without the stories immediately starting again that everyone "knew" they were the whores for the officers. It was almost impossible for the WAACS (later WACS) to walk down the street without passing GIs to agree with each other that everyone "knew" they had been brought into the Army to satisfy the soldiers. That generation had a strong male-female divide. The story of Rosie the Riveter was a joke to many but not to many many of the GIs whose wives or girl friends had been working outside the home. A highly significant percentage of the returning veterans DEMANDED that their women "come back home where they belonged." If the wives had been very efficiently budgeting the money and writing the checks properly, now it was time to return the purse to the man.
Please don't tell me that there were exceptions. Of course. There are exceptions to everything. There will be men in this Discussion Group who disagree vehemently to what I have just said and that is their prerogative. But that is how I remember it. As MaryPage's friend said: There was rampant male chauvanism in those times."
I realize that this is not a group discussing primarily male-female relationships but we are talking about my generation, are we not?
He also emphasizes another part of the war which was the training. Just think of that!! ONE HUNDRED American divisions training in England!! Despite this training many "mistakes" were being made which was inevitable due to the pressure of time. Think of being killed by "friendly" naval fire!! Think of being drowned. It is probably good that many "Gold Star" parents did not know how their children died. Patrick also reminds us of the critical responsibility of the chaplains and the dangers they were often in.
Thank you, Patrick, for bringing the horrors of war closer to our awareness.
Partyday: I hope your husband Norman gives us some of his reactions to Tom Brokaw's book.
Regarding reaction after the war to shots or similar noises. (Probably many veterans have memories like this.) I was in Paris in November, 1945. I was walking down a quiet tree-lined street and suddenly a series of shots. Sounded like a machine gun and probably was as many people still possessed guns. In one second I was flat on my stomach. You don't think at those moments. It comes from training and experience. I never did know the source of those shots.
What about even small items? Out on Long Island was a small company which made Zsus Fasteners. Sounds innocuous, doesn't it. These fasteners were attached to propellers. What was made in or near your community?
I'm glad those personal memories are "popping up," Mary. I'm sure that others who are lurking here are about to share some of theirs.
As you lie in bed tonight, thinking before you go off to sleep, may I suggest that you let your mind rest on these questions and the other questions listed above. Do they remind you of your family at that time or your neighbors or friends at that time?
Do you remember any actions at that time that you would describe as "great?" Please share with us.
Phyll: You bring up another important group in WWII - the American Legion Auxiliary - which was formed with the American Legion after WWI. You are right about the servicemen being "scared kids" and so many of them were looking for surrogate mothers.
I was taught, therefore, at an early age to make do or do without and I truly believe that the kind of life I led then strengthened me and enabled me to withstand many of the rigors during combat. I remember vividly many of the recruits crying in their beds the first and second nights at Ft. Dix. They were not only lonely and/or afraid, many of the more wealthy ones were soft in one way or another and did not know how to be self sufficient.
Did you men find that it was the war itself that made you "great" or do you believe that you had become "great" (perhaps in the 1920s) and that had helped you to survive during the war?
Here's another before-and-after question? Would the women of this generation have found their voices and recognized their ability, had there been no war at all?
Let's keep yesterday's "Question du Jour" up for another day
Do you believe the women of this generation raised the place of their gender to new heights and changed the perception and the reality of women in all disciplines of American life, as Tom Brokaw writes?
There was much talk yesterday of women in the armed services, as well as the nurses, Red Cross volunteers, USO entertainers...who stepped out of the traditional role of women and went into a formerly all male arena of war. Was this the first time this ever happened in this country...was there anything like this in WWI? Is it any wonder these young men were confused and responded as they did - some very badly? They were willing to put their lives on the line to protect the hearth and home, the women and children...and here they were right along side them? Think of it! What kind of women were these "skirts"? Certainly not Mom and Sis, the bride?
I read yesterday that the Military brass - and Congress who resisted strongly the whole concept of women in the military - that it was Eleanor Roosevelt who pressed it and finally persuaded FDR who used hs Presidential power to create them... can you just imagine how happy the Military and Congress were about that?
And then the women at home...let's talk about what life was like at home while the war raged on...your life. What did you do during the war? What was your life like at war's end? Had your role changed from before the war? Were you happy to get back to the traditional role or had you changed?
And back to Robby's original question...was it the war effort that brought out your "mettle" or the years leading up to it that prepared you for change?
Mary P, would you know if the WASPS were treated differently than the WAVES, WACS?
I hope your Monday morning is as sunny as it is here...enjoy it!
When World War II came into my life, the philosophies and activities of war were not new to me. I had, in a sense, been prepared in the early 1920 years. Men, how about your life in the 1920s?
Now I really must be off to assess the damage I did to two new cars in our driveway yesterday! Have a good day!
We just watched "A League of Their Own" on TBS over the weekend. Now that was a comment on working women par excellence! Was so glad to see them inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Well, Pearl Harbor certainly did change your life! Any other people here who lives were changed in such a "radical" way?
Getting back briefly to Joan's question: "What do you remember of the days prior to 1929," I'm wondering if anyone here can complete the final three lines of this song and tell me what it is about:
Then three more lines.
We all know about the Holocaust. How was it over here in the 1920s and 1930s?
I am aware that memories of this sort hurt but sharing is often an excellent means of therapy. What was America like in those days?
And when you say "anti-Semitism was throughout the culture", would you expand a bit on that, please?
And now, since I'm always at a loss for words, maybe I'll be able to say something.
But seriously, thank you very much.
That was about the war to end all wars. Too bad it had to be done all over again. There have been many "Flander's Fields" since then.
I had an uncle in WW1--infantry. He would never talk about it. And there are so many more men from WW11 just like him that will not talk about their experience. After we came back to work, I asked a man I worked with what part of France his division was in. And in a loud tone of voice--so unusuall for him--he said "I don't talk about it."
Another man told me of sceine he could never forget. In France, before entering what was thought to be a desserted farm house, he threw a grenade in one of the windows, as was the procedure. When he entered he found no enemy soldiers, but instead a young woman and her infant dead because of the grenade he had thrown. At he time he was still reciving therapy for that experience.
Well, the first car I took out in our driveway yesterday (our brand new, one-month old car) will be a mere $200 paint job. Should be ready tomorrow. Now we wait till son#3's girlfriend gets the news from her insurance company(agggghh)...I guess I don't get that new computer in the near future. Too bad - this one takes so loooooooooong to load, and you should hear the grinding noises!!!
This afternoon we have one newcomer to Welcome - James - or shall we call you "jimmck"? Your choice? You've been added to the roster. You thanked the GI bill and we'll be hearing a lot more about that in the coming weeks...please stay around to add to this discussion?
KKatie, that's an excellent point! Women gave up the jobs they were holding outside the home because the men needed work when they returned. Jobs were scarce! And housing too! There was a photo in yesterday's Washington Post, I think it was of temporary homes set up by the government at the docks - whole families on the riverfront - camping out because of the housing shortage. Am I right to conclude that women weren't unhappy about giving up working in shoe, tank, gun factories...but they enjoyed - and missed the comraderie and the independence the paycheck afforded?
I'd like to hear from the rest of our lady posters...were you happy to return to the normal, traditional role in your home with your children after the war, or reluctant to return...
Mal, I'm wondering about the "various factions" that stopped progress in the 50's? I'm guessing advertising and the television (?) that showed the happy homemaker in the kitchen? I always wonder if advertising is a reflection of what is or if it is attempting to influence? If someone wants to pay to advertise a stove, and appeal to someone who wants to bake the apple pie the housewife sees coming out of the oven, it seems they are appealing to what is. If a TV show shows June Cleaver making cookies for the "Beave", is the show attempting to show a slice of true life? I'm not saying that all were happy watching these shows, but I am wondering about what you see as the factions that were attempting to keep the woman in her home in the fifties.
And one more observation about the women of the "greatest" - numbers of college graduates may not have been high for the woman coming of age during the war years, (this is not surprising, is it?)~ but I'd like to hear from the women of the "greatest" ~ how many of you made sure your daughters went?
BobC, please don't think I'm being insensitive...those epithets are still painful to remember..but may I ask you this? You are a member of the "greatest" - you remember as a child being taunted for your race...but where do you think children your age learned such language and hatred? Not from one another...but from the previous generation, right? I'm more interested in hearing how the "greatest" responded when they came of age...during the War? How did people respond when they learned of the death camps? When did you first hear about them? My question is this...did the situation improve for Jews in this country among your own generation after the war?
I was a First Sergeant in an Infantry Company. For those who are not acquainted with military ranks, this is the hated Top Kick who swears at the guys and gives them jobs to do. (I like to think that I was not quite that bad.) As our division was still in the States and on maneuvers and we were approaching the Christmas of 1943, the I&R (Intelligence & Reconnaissance) Sergeant came to me and made an offer. He was Jewish and I still 60 years later remember his name - Martin Shapiro. Bless you, Martin, wherever you are. He said that he and the other Jewish members of the company had gotten together, talked about it, and were now offering to do all (ALL) the required duties on Christmas Day so that the remaining Christian soldiers could have a true Christmas. The offer was obviously made in good faith, I accepted it, they did all required work completely and well, and the rest of the company did, I am pleased to say, thank those Jewish fellows for their beautiful spiritual move. With your permission, can we end that topic on this high note?
Yes, Phyll, you found the last three lines of the Rose of No Man's Land. My father told me often about those great Red Cross Nurses. One of them probably nursed him on the battlefield before he was taken to the hospital.
We have spoken a bit about discrimination as we remember it in those times. Referring to Joan's question above: "Did your own parents speak against other ethnic groups in your neighborhood?" In an earlier posting, I told of my mother's attitude and songs that my father and I used to sing. What are your memories of what went on in your family?
I'm so happy to see you have found your way back to us,Britta! Just so you all know, this "enemy" as Britta describes herself, was a young girl in Dresden during the fire-bombing! Enemy indeed! Welcome back, Britta!
And another newbie, another big WELCOME, Kathy! Of course that wasn't too long! And your excitement is contagious! Come back to us often and spread some more!
Hmm...before the war and racial attitudes at home...nothing! No memories at all - except- one little song taught to me by a babysitter(white) that sticks in my head - seems to make no sense at all now, but is it indicative of the times...it surely isn't anything I passed on to my own children...but marvel that it is still in my brain - taking up precious gray matter!
"Oh I had a little niggah,What did you learn as a child, and then as you were growing up - in your own home that began to shape your reaction to those who were racially "different" from yourself - before the war? Were your own parents intolerant towards another ethnic group in your neighborhood? What effect did this have on you?
And he wouldn't grow no biggah
So I put him in the windah for a show...
And he fell out the windah
And he broke his little fingah
And he couldn't play the ole banjo...
Did the war change your attitudes at all?
I wish you all a fine day! It's raining here and that's good! I shoveled too much dirt and mulch yesterday and today have an excuse to sit and read!
Look forward to hearing from you!
We are looking forward to hearing from you soon -- especially from Paris!!
Any reactions from other members of your family?
Any reactions here to Patrick's comment?
The phrase, "our kind," used by your mother is a phrase I have often heard throughout the years. It is one of those nebulous phrases -- hard to define -- and often people don't want to define it when pressed. And yet you described your mother as most "generous hearted." As we examine ourselves, how do we explain this? How can we of that period define our generation as a "great" one and simultaneously say we partook in such actions and words?
Even though I'm not of the Jewish faith, I'm ashamed that the rest of the world took so long in puting a stop to this holocaust.
My family called WW 11 "the book-end war" some of us-we were cousins--were in the ETO and others were in the Pacific Theater of Operations. One cousin was in the Navy, so you see, we had all the bases covered. But, thank God, we all survived.
IMA! Welcome to you too! Will add your name and would like to add your husband's too? Your birth years? I'm sure your husband enjoyed the book..it is a tribute to all who worked together to win that war - to you!
Did the war improve racial relations in any way in your own lives when you returned home?
WW2 became the great melting pot, and after fighting through Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Germany and Austria against a common enemy, protecting each other's backs, we realized that the holocaust was caused by us all. Never again would we be intolerant of others because of race, color or creed.
Ah, DUNMORE! Welcome! Just the young fella we've been looking for! Super post! You have provided insight and answers to many of the questions we have been asking!
"...coming face to face with racial discrimination for the first time in my life, calling home and speaking to my Mother and realizing she spoke with a brogue.Being young enough at seventeen to not realize the danger I was in many times, being of a mind that I can handle anything..."Keep coming back - and sharing your memories through the eyes of that young kid with a mind he can handle anything!
This week we are staying with the early introductory pages in both of Tom Brokaw's books. Page numbers have been listed in the heading...we spent last week on an overview of early years of this generation but Robby felt that since we saw so many new "faces" come over the weekend, we should spend more time on them...before moving into the first of many individual interviews. I believe it was mid-week, Wed. or Thurs. that we discussed yesteday's topic.
Gladys got her book!!! Hurraaaay! You asked about which book we are discussing, Gladys! The first answer that comes to mind, is that we are not really discussing any book, but rather the memories of the men and women of this generation, the book chapters being the catalyst that trigger YOUR memories...
Tom Brokaw wrote The Greatest Generation Speaks to pay tribute to the men and women who came of age during the Depression and World War II. Generation Speaks is a collection of letters written in response to the first book.
Whether you have one book or both, it is your own memories that we welcome here! We will begin Monday with Tom Broderick's account in Greatest Generation, and several related responses from Generation Speaks. It is our hope that these accounts will spark you into sharing memories, whether you have the book(s) or not. The books will provide structure for the discussion. I hope that answers your question? You don't need two books - though many people have them!
Today we are looking to learn more about the Depression years and the effect of the deprivation and sacrifice during those formative years on this great generation of men and women.
1 - While everyone of us (being the human beings that we are) stray from time to time in our comments, it is important that we keep in mind that the central theme is Brokaw's book.
2 - There is nothing wrong with sharing our personal memories (in fact, that is good - it enriches the forum) so long as what we are sharing relates to something in the book.
3- The main book of the two is Brokaw's original book. If you do have the second book which is composed of letters written to him, do not worry about it. You are right with us.
4 - We have been talking about discrimination and that is in order as that was a trait of those times and Brokaw mentioned it (page 6). While a topic like this is relevant and important, may I suggest, however, that we not "beat it to death" as we need to move on in the book.
5 - We have been talking about other items that Brokaw brought up, eg homeless and unemployed men (page 6) and shared our thoughts about that.
6 - There are still other items he brought up that we haven't yet touched, eg the change of America from agrarian to urban (page 4).
This Discussion Group is of necessity a bit more structured than many other forums would be because we are following an author's thoughts. Again - personal memories are encouraged but always, if you would please, sticking to the sub-topics mentioned in the book. Joan is asking above if there are any more memories of deprivation and sacrifice during the years of the Great Depression that "strengthened" the folks of that era and perhaps helped them to get through the war years.
If not, then we are ready to move on to her next question: Your memories of the New Deal and your family's economic picture just before the war.
Thank you for sharing with us. How do you reconcile in your mind the differences between the Americans who were so nice to you and the Americans who fought your people?
The CCC was part of the New Deal which has since been described as a great social experiment. Has it occurred to any hikers here that as you walk the 2,000 or less miles from Maine to Georgia, that this marvelous trail is the result of a terrible Great Depression?
I was only 13 years old at the time (1933) but I knew about it because it was discussed in the Boy Scouting program where I was active. As Scouts we were interested in nature and the outdoors in any form.
You "older" folks in the list above -- do any of you have any memories about the New Deal -- CCC or otherwise?
I would agree 100% with your description of the Senior Net. We are, indeed, a "special group of people who share our feelings about important subjects but who are also willing to learn about the views of others." I am pleased that you chose to share and we are looking forward to your additional comments about anything related to the "Greatest Generation."
It is so easy to be misunderstood in posts...most of the time I let the unimportant things go by, but this is not one of them...Please let me explain my use of the word "quibble", (which I thought was the word you had used) when you in fact said ...
"I would like to respond directly to Joan Pearson, who asked about being "--taunted for your race." I don't wish to nitpick, but...I agree with you, which I tried to say in my very next post
"No, of course it's not quibbling, Bob!...I know that what the Jews suffered was not because of race,"I guess you misunderstood what I was trying to say...to assure you that I did not think you were nitpicking OR quibbling at all - you are right - that it is an important distinction! I'm sorry that it didn't come across that way.
Think I'll crawl back out to the garden and the worms!
I have been in the field of communication, in one form or another, most of my life. It is so difficult because it has two end points -- the transmitter who is trying to get a message across and the receiver who is trying to understand what is being transmitted. Face to face communication by two people who know each other intimately is sometimes difficult enough -- then we have two people face to face who do not really know each other -- then we have two people on the phone who are not face to face and do not see the expressions of the other -- then we have two people who are communicating by the printed word and do not hear the tonal inflections -- then we have two people who probably come from two different backgrounds and use certain words in two different ways -- and then, OH MY GOSH!! - it's a wonder that any one of us in this world can understand anyone else at any time!!!
You said it best: "We in Senior Net are a special group of people who are willing to learn about the views of others." Hurrah for open hearts and open minds!!
This where I wish that a calm face-to-face discussion was available. Betty, please believe me when I say that no one is "making a concentrated effort to get rid" of anyone. Independent thought is encouraged. Speaking solely for myself, however, I also encourage that we address issues not personalities.
If 13 people were "recruited" to "shift the discussion," this is all new to me and I do believe I would have known it. We do encourage people to enter this discussion but not, as you suggest, with a planned agenda. As for having "only 700 posts so far" - I consider that excellent. Many other forums have far less. If we are "struggling," that is also new to me.
I did not say we "cannot" stray from the topic. Please re-read my comments. I urged that we remain with the topics but at the same time realizing that, as human beings, we may find ourselves occasionally straying.
If any of the authors of the previous comments are, as you say, "hurt" then I urge them to e-mail me with their thoughts and I promise to answer them. I say e-mail because the issue in this public forum is comments about that particular generation and not individual differences.
As for "correct" answers, may I suggest that this does not exist.
As for "being ignored," if you feel I have been doing that, please e-mail me. Please realize, however, that if I do not mention everybody's posting every time, it does not mean I am ignoring them. I "lead" this discussion in what I consider a courteous and considerate manner.
I get the feeling (I can be wrong) that the topic of discrimination is one of the sore points. You are right that many comments supported the fact that there was much discrimination practiced by that generation. And no one denied it. My suggested guidelines above merely asked that we continue to move on to further sub-topics, not because the current sub-topics are not important or acknowledged, but in the interest of giving other sub-topics an opportunity for discussion.
WHAT CAN I SAY, FOLKS? I personally believe that 99.9% of the SN people are good-hearted generous open-minded people. But we have a book to discuss and I, for one, suggest that we acknowledge that discrimination did exist, that we posted many comments about it, and that now we move on.
Were there any thoughts about the NEW DEAL? the C.C.C.? the APPALACHIAN TRAIL? the ECONOMIC CONDITIONS OF THE FAMILIES BEFORE THE WAR? All these were mentioned on page 4 & 5 in Brokaw's book.
You talk about NRA buttons. Yes, I wore one, too, and there were NRA signs in all the store windows. Of course at that age I wasn't political but I wanted to be "American."
That is a most powerful statement you made: "The Depression is all I knew." If all our friends are also struggling, we think that is the "world."
Anyone here with memories of Black Markets or hoarding before 1941?
I'd like to clarify that last week "SeniorNet" sent our first email to ALL participants on our website to promote various activities on our site. There was no effort to change the focus of this or any other discussion. The email was, in fact composed about three or four weeks ago, though it was mailed only last Friday. The email inviting participants to this discussion was a general invitation for those who lived through this period to share their, or their families, stories in relation to the Brokaw books.
I have followed all of the messages here and have seen no evidence of anyone, particularly on the part of the discussion leaders, trying to sway the perspectives of participants in one way or another. The discussion, as was clearly stated from the beginning, is a "structured" discussion as are many of our Books discussions. There are weekly and daily questions posted and the discussion will roughly follow the chronology of the Brokaw books. There has been a lot of leeway given for development of topics that may have been tangential to the initial questions and, when a couple of topics seemed to generate more interest, the initial timeframe of the discussion has been lengthened to accommodate further discussion.
This is a discussion based on the Brokaw books and the memories and reflections elicted from reading the books and from reading the posts of the other participants here.
I have watched the lengthy behind-the-scenes planning for this discussion by our two discussion leaders and I assure you that there is no 'hidden' agenda to support particular viewpoints over others. Our discussion leaders, as are all of our volunteers, are volunteering their time and skills here and put in many, many hours before the discussion even started.
As the discussion of the books progresses, if there is a topic that a few or many participants would like to discuss in more depth, we can certainly open a new discussion on that topic. As Robby suggests, you may email him or Joan Pearson or you may email me and I will open a new discussion if there are issues that you would like to explore in more depth after initial discussion of them has been raised in this discussion and we've moved on to another topic. We can have many opportunities to discuss issues that can enrich our understanding. We are not limited to this one discussion. We can have several parallel discussions. (We currently have about 350 on various topics!) The books and the memories of the participants here raise so many varied topics that can be seen from so many perspectives that we could spend several months and not get past the introduction to the first book!
Gladys: Your memories help us in the United States to realize that no matter how bad life was here, it was obviously much worse in the U.K. Thank you for keeping us knowledgeable about those things and helping us to have a feeling of gratitude.
Nowadays there are constant arguments in Congress as to whether the government should be alloting funds for the arts and yet Mal reminds us that during the Depression, President Roosevelt helped people find work through government funding for not only "digging ditches" but in the areas of art and culture.
The CCC as created by FDR paid the youth $30 a week. They received food and a roof over their head and were required to send back $25 to their families so they could live. Isn't that visionary? A leader of that caliber was sent to us at just the right time.
In 1933, the year he became president and four years after the stock market crash, he decided to use a wonderful "new" tool, the radio. I say new because it had only been used by the general public for 15 years or so -- much less than TV has now been on the scene.
Visualize with me, if you will, a family consisting of parents, grandparents, children -- all gathered around that big box. Radio is not as distracting as TV. Everyone can concentrate on the voice emanating from it. Now imagine, also, that the voice coming out of that box is talking directly to you. That calm steady and honest-sounding voice is talking directly to the father who can't find a job -- to the mother who wonders how she is going to feed her children -- to the children who don't understand all of it but feel the confidence coming from that voice.
As far as I am concerned there has never been anything like that since that period. President Roosevelt asked for our confidence and we gave it to him. He told us that the banks would give us our money back if we wanted it, and we believed him. He also asked that we leave the money in the bank and most of us did it. Here we were "sitting next to the fire" with our leader who told us not to be afraid. He promised us that things would get better.
Whether that generation was the "greatest" or not can be discussed for decades. But I, for one, consider Franklin Delano Roosevelt one of the "greatest" presidents we have ever had.
Thank you for sharing that bit of history. It seems to bring together all the various things we have been discussing about that generation -- the aftermath of World War I, the Great Depression, the marching of the World War I veterans on Washington, the desire of the Federal Government not to have a repeat of that march, the actions of the American Legion,and the signing of the GI Bill in June, 1944.
This leads us to some of Joan's questions in the box above labeled "More." What were your thoughts just prior to World War II. Had you ever heard of Hitler? of Stalin? of Tojo? What did you know about what was going on in those nations? Did you think America was going to be involved in a war? Did you think you were going to be personally involved?
Dig deep into your memories. What was going on in your mind in those pre-war days?
Your thoughts are much appreciated. Please continue to share them with us. Previous posters have suggested that we are all related and you, also, are indicating that we are all human beings of various sorts no matter what "side" we are on.
You are reminding the rest of us who lived at that time in various places all across this vast nation that the residents of the West Coast not only were subject to pre-war propaganda but that there were mixed feelings due to many of you having Japanese-American friends. As you say, it is "painful" to remember those incidents. In many ways, this is similar to what Yuri is telling us -- that things are different when we know people personally.
I wonder why war was not mentioned in school until after Pearl Harbor. Did the rest of you have a similar experience?
I am one of those who benefited from the G.I. Bill. I was discharged from the Army April 9, 1946 and enrolled in college that Fall. In the Spring of 1949 I received my B.A. in Psychology. I won't say I wouldn't have been able to go to college without it (I would have found some other way, so help me) but the GI Bill made it much easier for me and millions of other veterans.
As you say, "after the war" is another topic which we will get to discussing in the future.
Gladys: It is important to remind ourselvwes in the U.S. that when we were just considering the possibility of war, you were already wearing a gas mask.
Lorrie: You are right. The CCC paid $30 A MONTH!! Again, it is important to remind the younger folks here that money had a different value at that time and that, as you say Lorrie, the $25 your family received was a Godsend. In reference to your Arboretum, I wonder how many other people here live near similar projects still existing which were built as a result of the Great Depression.
I have ridden on this beautiful Parkway and had no idea it was a WPA project begun back in the Great Depression days. I am almost beginning to believe that the Depression was a wonderful thing!! Any other projects that you folks remember?
The only other time I can think of when so many high-caliber people gathered together to strengthen our citizenry was when our Founders gathered in Philadelphia.
My mother used to tell the story of her father and his brothers attempting "bathtub gin" during Prohibition. Anyone ever heard of this? What in the world would go in it? Gin is made with potatoes, isn't it?
A good point! There is nothing better than an excellent leader unless it is a combination of two excellent leaders. As you say, it was a "fortuitous combination in time of need." How often does something like that happen?
Neither my buddies nor I as we grew up thought much about what was going on in China except when it was briefly mentioned in History class in school nor did I think much about it after I was graduated from high school in 1937. It didn't affect me and I wonder if it affected any others of my generation.
I can't react to everything that has been said here since I left this morning so you'll forgive me if I skip here and there.
Mal: You ask what the China war had to do with World War II. All we need to do is look at the Security Council of the United Nations. This is composed of the five nations that were part of the Allied Forces in World War II -- United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union (now Russia), France, and China.
Yuri: Regarding Truman vs MacArthur, regardless of who was right or wrong, it does help people who do not understand completely the structure of the U.S. government to realize that the civilian take precedence over the military. That is one our strengths. The Chief of Staff of the Military takes orders from the Secretary of Defense, a civilian. The Chief of Staff of the Army takes orders from the Secretary of the Army, a civilian, etc. etc. And then the ultimate -- the Head of State, the president, a civilian, is also the Commander of Chief of all armed forces. MacArthur disobeyed the Commander of Chief. That is insubordination and cannot be condoned. Truman had no choice. What a wonderful nation we live in !!
BobC painted an accurate picture of MacArthur as I understood him. He was, as MaryPage says, a megalomaniac -- however, Ann, megalomaniacs accomplish things and we have to put up with shenanigans.
I have similar memories to MaryPage. I remember marching up and down the drill fields at Ft. Meade, Md., singing "Old Soldiers Never Die....." long before MacArthur was fired. He was a Broadway actor until the end.
Not only President Roosevelt but other far-looking leaders of those times made a decision which has brought a bit more happiness to me in my latter years.
I consider that action an event that helped to make that generation "great."
Shows a need for honest and objective education, doesn't it?
1 - Freedom of speech.
2 - Freedom to worship.
3 - Freedom from want.
4 - Freedom from fear.
As we look at the question above referring to a "shared purpose," do we see a connection between our nationally shared purpose at that time and the Four Freedoms? What do each of these freedoms mean to you. What do they mean together as a purpose? As you dig into your memories, what did they mean to you then? What do they mean to you now?
I did radio repair and erected radio and shortwave antennas when I came home from 4 years of army service in WW2 . It became my chief hobby, although my regular occupation was with the State of NY as a power plant engineer.
I made my first tv set from a kit in 1953, but because I was 140 miles from the nearest tv station, I found it very difficult to get a clear picture on my set. Although a radio signal follows the contour of the earth, a tv signal can only travel in a straight "line of sight" direction in space. For this reason, antenna installers had to erect 75 to 100 feet towers to receive tv signals from over 100 miles away, and I became very adept at this when the first tv sets came on the market.
In January of 1964 I fell from one of these towers, hit a roof on the way down, at the 30 foot level, and continued on to the ground, breaking my back, both wrists, several ribs, my pelvis and my pride. I spent the next 6 months recouperating in the hospital, undergoing much surgery.
Two weeks after I fell, my wife came into the same hospital and at the age of 44, gave birth to our son, who turned out to be a Downs Syndrome child.
Because of all the trauma she suffered at this time, my wife had a nervous breakdown, went into a very serious depression, was committed to a mental institution, and never recovered sufficiently to return home. After I recovered from my injuries, I tried to find professional help for my son, but was told by all the professionals that I should institutionalize him, and forget that I ever had him. After much searching, I was able to find other parents who had handicapped children at home, and were willing to start a pilot program and participate in teaching simple skills to these children in a sheltered work shop, with their handicapped peers as friends and companions. The simple skills consisted of teaching them to tell time, make change and make conversation and react with one another.
I noticed that most of the children had some speech defect, could not pronounce certain words or stuttered, and had much difficulty expressing themselves to us and each other, because of the speech impediment. About this time, in 1964, I noticed an article in the newspaper that stated that our county Teacher's College was hiring a speech pathologist, of Japanese descent, by the name of Patricia Gengo to teach Speech Pathology.
I went to the college and after explaining to her the situation we were in with speech difficulties in the work shop, I asked Patricia if she could help us out with the children. She told me that if I could get volunteers to work with each individual child she would instruct that volunteer how to correct the particular speech impediment that each child had, and they would have to continue the instructions repeatedly.
I went to the local seminary college and asked the Rector for volunteers, and although he was very reluctant, he allowed me to ask the assembled students for volunteers and 20 raised their hands and became tutors to these handicapped children, in the workshop and in their homes, with their parents.
When this news got out, other parents of handicapped children, some of whom had been hiding these children, brought their children to the work shop to take advantage of the better communicaton skills their child would receive.
At this time there were so many handicapped children "coming out of hiding" that the state offered to subsidize the program. The program was started with 12 children originally, and now has over 300 handicapped children being bussed daily in the county to programs and workshops running in five locations. Some of these children have been taken out of Institutions and now live in one of our many group homes with house parents.
I have a prison ministry, and was able to help coordinate a Special Olympics Program in Collins Bay Penitentiary, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, for both American and Canadian handicapped children which is televised on national television annually,and our local county children participate. The prisoners act as instructors to the handicapped children who come from many American and Canadian areas. The children are housed and sleep at the Barracks at Fort Henry and are provided with their Olympic Uniforms and prizes by money raised by the prisoners. Last year they raised $18,000 for the participants.
Any memories of sharing in that period of time that others might want to tell us?
That's a wonderful idea to get your sister in France to share some of her experiences. A French perspective would help us to better understand what was going on in WWII times. Have a nice trip but as you are leaving in June hopefully we will hear a bit more from you before you leave. How does it happen that you live here and your sister lives in France?
Great that you will be visiting Omaha Beach, the American Cemetery, Pointe de Hoc, and the Ranger Memorial!! We will be looking forward to your posting regularly your reactions to what you did and saw. (If you don't mind being given an assignment, so to speak.) They are all so relevant to what we are discussing here. Thank you for your regular postings now!
Yurie, Robby has given you quite an "assignment"! Please share your response to this site. This is what moved Tom Brokaw so much. While contemplating the battlefield, and the heroic men who fought for our freedoms, he was reminded by Stephen Ambrose of the importance of recalling "the savage nature of war." Do you agree with Stephen Ambrose ~ or is the reality of war best forgotten?
A big Welcome to Theron & Theresa B.! Another nametag for a generation...the Forgotten! Theron, we need to talk about that...Forgotten or Silent? You are both very welcome - "Speak Up"!
Yes, we do indeed need to recall Ambrose's reminder that war is savage. It can made monsters of us all in the name of helping our neighbors and protecting ourselves, We, who have never had to leave home to defend our or another country, really aren't able to comprehend the horror of war. I was looking at the devastation in one of the European countries after WWII and thought to myself, we are doing this to ourselves and to our world? Its frightening!
You use the word "devastation." I shared this memory once before in one of the forums but I can recall standing on one side of the city of Julich in Germany and our Allied bombing had been so complete that I could see men walking on the other side of the city. It was flat!
That is, it was flat except for a church standing up in the middle of the city which "we" had allowed to stand. You see, folks, we are moral people.
There was this town in France where the hobby by almost everyone was keeping parrots. Parrots, as we know, often copy what they hear in their own homes and one day a German soldier walked by to hear this parrot say; "Down with the dirty Boche." He banged on the door and told the woman that if he heard the parrot say that again he would kill it.
The woman was distraught and spoke to her priest. No problem, he said, we'll just trade parrots. He'll never know. The next day the German soldier strode purposefully by the house but the parrot said nothing. The solder strode by again in the other direction but the parrot said nothing.
Finally, in order to provoke it, the German shouted:"Down with the dirty Boche" and the parrot responded: "May your prayers be answered, my son!"
I remember that old "two pieces of cake" bit. They gave that to all of us.
You say that your "service years prepared you well for the future." Would you expand a bit on that, please?
While reading the “Greatest Generation,”I can’t help but think of other great generations, especially those of our own country. I envision the pioneers crossing the continent on their “westward-ho” journey in the Conestoga wagons to open the west and settle other parts of our nation. The trials and hardships these pioneers endured along the way, caring for their sick and burying their dead, while traveling over arid country and through the passes of the Rocky Mountains in these primitive wagons in all kinds of weather, is hard for me to imagine. But they did it. And they did not give up. Thereby making the development of country possible
The Pilgrims of this nation crossed the sea in sail ships, nothing at all like the luxury cruise ships of today. They, too, went through wind-tossed seas and all kinds of weather--what a journey that must of been. And, when they landed on this our shores, they went right to work carving out a new land for themselves and for future generations, of which “The Greatest Generation” is one.
I know my thoughts here are a little bit of the beaten track we have been following, but I put all this down to point out that our generation Must have inherited this strong will to succeed. To keep going and make things turn out OK.
These thoughts are not off the beaten track, Bill. How do some of the rest of you feel?
No one can say that a particular generation begins at a specific year and ends at a specific year. Can we agree, then, that although the emphasis of this Discussion Group is WWII, that many Korean vets are also members of that "greatest" generation?
Here's a link to B&N and some books on The Forgotten War
We've reached the 1000 post mark and since we are moving from the Introductions into the chapters of the Books now, we will make this discussion READ ONLY and open a new discussion to continue our thoughts on the Greatest Generation. If you have used the Subscribe feature, you will have to change your subscription to the new discussion.
You will find a link to the new discussion in the heading. Will look for you in our new chambers...