It is a debt we can never repay.
Eighty-two years ago today men and women destined to be heralded as The Greatest Generation stepped up to answer America’s wake-up call.
When the smoke cleared 2,400 were dead at Pearl Harbor.
In military terms, it was a sneak attack. In reality it was the accumulation of decades of denial.
Freedom isn’t something that comes without a price.
Free men are not free simply because they want to be free.
The history of mankind is littered with “leaders” and regimes who viewed the masses as mere chattel to use freely in their schemes of domination or control.
Did America have a choice not to go to war?
Not if future generations of Americans were to remain free.
The Japanese, in a way, did a huge favor for the flickering candle of democracy.
Had they not attacked the United States, sentiment in this country was running against becoming involved in the war in Europe and certainly not in the war in Asia.
Had that fateful day 82 years ago not happened, the odds are good that the Axis Powers would have controlled Europe, Africa, and Asia. That would have left the Americas to stand alone against a global onslaught.
The men and women of The Greatest Generation didn’t hesitate.
Given the fact they were still trapped in the lingering Great Depression one could argue their spirits and will would have been depleted.
But there is one truth that soars above the rest – freedom is more valuable than all the gold in the world.
They ended up spilling their blood on Normandy Beach, in the Battle of the Bulge, in the Sahara, in the jungles of The Philippines, and in countless other spots.
Back home others – especially women – were called on to create the greatest war machine that the world has even seen. Factories were converted overnight to produce equipment and supplies for the war effort.
Some would say that it was America’s darkest hour.
They, however, are wrong.
It was America’s finest hour.
And it is not just because the Greatest Generation ultimately won the war.
Instead of acting like the conquering armies of yesteryear, The Greatest Generation didn’t put the defeated into submission.
Instead they rebuilt Europe and Japan.
The Marshall Plan was the foundation that made the great economies of Europe and Asia what they are today.
It is helped spread the fragile seeds of democracy.
Coming back from the war, the Great Generation had the energy and determination to break barriers.
They broke the sound barrier, they went into space, and they created computers along with microwave technology.
They also exploded norms by forging new social frontiers including civil rights.
Was The Greatest Generation perfect?
They had their warts but you’d be hard pressed to match them today for the sacrifice, the boundless energy, and the endless optimism.
We are who we are today in terms of our health and wealth.
The current generation worldwide may indeed be the freest and smartest to walk the earth but that wouldn’t have been the case without the sacrifices made in World War II.
We can bellyache about our “bad times” they are nothing to what The Greatest Generation endured during the Great Depression when national unemployment was twice as high as today.
People lost their homes not through greed but a severely depressed economy.
Shoes, running water, and indoor toilets were still a luxury for many people in this country.
We can whine about health care but if it wasn’t for The Greatest Generation that opened up new doors in medical research and pushed the envelope as well as built civilization’s most advanced sewer and water treatment systems our expected longevity and overall health would not be near what it is today.
The Greatest Generation went from storming Iwo Jima to landing on the Sea of Tranquility.
We should never forget their sacrifices and brave deeds.
America as a free country and the world as a place where the masses still dare to stand on the same footing of kings are forever indebted to the men and women who responded on that dark day 82 years ago and opened the curtains on a brighter future for all.
This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org