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COMMENTARY: HISTORY FROM ANCIENT TO MODERN

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"The Greatest Generation"

The celebrity journalist Tom Brokow has written a book titled The Greatest Generation." It's too much of a generalization. Lauding individuals may be sound. Describing Nobel Prize winners in chemistry as bright is sound. So too is praise for Medal of Honor winners for their selflessness. But describing a whole generation as great or not so great is too abstract. Brokow was writing about the generation that fought World War II. These were people with strengths and weaknesses common to humanity, doing what they had to do, some a little better than others, some bumbling along and some commiting foolishness. I dislike generalizing about my fellow US citizens. There are so many good people here – wonderful people, beautiful people, sterling people – that I would not want to make a negative statement about US citizens in general. If we have to generalize about the World War II generation, we can recognize what those who served during the war had to go through. Many lost their lives and many other conducted themselves well. The entire nation went to war and endured rationing, unlike later generations who sent people to die while trying to pursue affluent living.

David Halberstam wrote a book about persons of this generation that he titled The Best and the Brightest. His book had more specificity in its intent than Brokow's book. There was sarcasm Halberstam's title. It was more of a book for adults, a book about the folly of those of Brokow's Greatest Generaion" in positions of leadership during the Vietnam era.

Copyright © 2006-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.