In search of the Me Generation

January 3, 2013 

It does seem there are people who think the children of WWII veterans are undeserving of the benefits of their efforts. These people use terms such as the Me Generation. I suppose they truly think they are well informed in their grasp of history, but I disagree. No generation should be either sanctified of villainized.

Instead of the Me Generation, let's call them the postwar generation for now, thereby removing the taint of the equivalent of class warfare. Beginning in 1947 when the USSR exploded its first nuclear device, the newly born postwar generation began to learn how any day they would be annihilated. They were shown what would happen too when results of nuclear testing aired on the news. As a means of protection, they were taught to drop and cover, as if their school desk might stop fallout.

The WWII generation accomplished a great and bloody victory, but their PTSD went untreated. Many of those drank heavily and believed in “Spare the rod and spoil the child.”

Many postwar generation children lived in homes where both parents smoked. Paint was leaded, as was gasoline. Deadly exhaust fumes layered towns and cities. Water pollution was so bad that a river in the Midwest caught fire. There were no sewer treatment plants but cesspools instead. Litter was commonplace, until roadsides and everywhere nearby looked like a trash dump. No one recycled. Beaches were filthy. It wasn't until the postwar generation came of age and declared that it was time to change all of that, that an effort was put into cleaning the air and water.

Civil rights became a frontline issue, as did women's rights when the postwar generation joined those already fighting for their freedoms. Many of the WWII generation disagreed with the need for serious social change.

It was WWII generation generals and politicians who started a war in Southeast Asia. Millions of the postwar generation donned uniforms ready to give their lives for our nation. Nearly 60,000 died in combat, hundreds of thousands were wounded, many severely injured. PTSD was still unknown and Agent Orange slowly ate alive the young men returning from the field of battle. Before the war could be won, the WWII generation politicians, some of whom started the war, decided it was un-winnable and, with the media's assistance, eventually blamed the loss on the brave men and women who fought.

Yet the postwar generation had families and, at their own expense put their children through college in record numbers.

Over the last 45 years, the postwar generation paid into Medicare believing they were investing in health care for their retirement, only to learn later that they paid for the WWI and WWII generations’ health care instead. They paid into Social Security, some starting at age 16, thinking they were putting aside an investment for their retirement without knowing that Congress squandered it on pet projects.

There is a large group of citizens in our country who seem to believe it is OK to skip a sacrificial obligation to liberty and freedom. Skip the commitment of voting. That they are entitled to ride on the backs of those before and after them who had the patriotic zeal to fight and die for our nation.

Now those same “entitled” people beat the drum of divisive dislocation so that they and their companions on history's pathways can look for scapegoats to blame for their own serious lack of character and values unbecoming the Christians they claim to be.

There is no “Me Generation” but instead a generation of people, many of who willingly fought and died for their country, sacrificed silently and continually, and still do today.

The writer lives in Murrells Inlet.

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