Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

A time that always calls up love of country and pride in a member of the so-called "The Greatest Generation" is overlaid today with sadness for what has been lost.

We celebrate community, connection and self-sacrifice only a week after an election marked by selfish and bitter complaints about how the United States is damaging me, me, me with barely a word about the multitude of men and women in uniform risking their lives for all of us in unspeakable places.

Last year I was among those in their seventies and eighties trying to reach across generations to explain to eighth-graders what life was like in World War II.

For those children, the messages boiled down to a simple story: We went because our country needed us, we did what had to be done, even when and especially when we were afraid, and we learned how much we were connected to those who protected us as we protected them.

We learned about living in a world larger than ourselves and that we had to take government and politics seriously and join in a process that put us and might in the future put them in harm's way far from home.

This year I did not have the heart to stand there and talk about all that as those children are about to inherit a country that has utterly forgotten its unity in a time when there were stars in almost every window with families sacrificing food, gasoline and other necessities for the war effort and where people flocked to USOs to make strangers in uniform feel loved and appreciated in their common effort for survival.

If Americans truly want to celebrate Veterans Day, they might want to reflect on how patriotism has become a mask for selfishness, how sacrifice has become a dirty word and how hatred of one another has replaced love of the country that shelters us all.

Otherwise they will be honoring those who bled and died for it with empty words.

1 comment:

Christina G. said...

"that we had to take government and politics seriously"- though it seems like many Americqns DO, I have to wonder...I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said something like, political involvment was close to god-likeness, generating, nurturing & maintaining a nation and its freedom. Today, do we as citizens see it this way? How many of our elected officials do? Some must, but I would think if more of us overall 'got it', then "hatred of one another has replaced love of the country that shelters us all." would be increasingly diminished.