The sappiest generation

By Sean Elder

By Salon Staff
Published August 2, 2000 7:24PM (EDT)

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Sheesh! Why can't the old guy just take a compliment and be done with it? If someone deemed my generation "The Greatest," I would accept the honor and move on. Given all the other stuff that has been (rightfully) blamed on the WWII era -- the Vietnam fiasco, Watergate, white flight, television -- it's nice to see someone pointing out that, yeah, at one time, they were willing to make a sacrifice. It doesn't absolve them of their other sins, it merely points out the obvious. I am a loyal Salon reader, but I don't come here to read the rantings of a pissed-off vet living in a trailer out in Barstow.

-- Thomas Nord

I agree that calling them "The Greatest Generation" is laying it on a bit thick, but it's beyond doubt that the WWII generation faced the U.S.'s biggest challenges of this century -- the Great Depression and the war -- and they led us to victory over both.

The WWII generation fought for political and economic freedom. All the following generations can do is fight over what to do with that freedom.

I don't know if my father is a better man than me, but I do know that he's braver, not because of any innate quality, but simply because the times demanded it of him. (This goes for my mom, too.)

-- Tom Harrington

While the Depression/WWII generation deserves much of the credit it has gotten, let us also not forget that they have already been justly rewarded many times over for their service. The GI Bill, VHA home loans, free car washes and drinks down at the VFW -- they've earned it and they've had their parade.

In my opinion, the generation that has gotten a bum rap has been their children, the baby boomers. Their willingness to buck the tide of popular opinion and protest the Vietnam War led not only to that war's ending but to the end of the draft as well. They literally fought, and in some cases, died for my generation's freedom. My freedom to choose not to die for the oil companies -- without shame or regret -- was won for me by the so-called "Me" generation. However, that's not all. Let us not forget the freedom riders and civil rights workers, the abortion rights and women's rights activists, the UFW strikers.

We take for granted the freedom to escape an abusive or loveless marriage, the freedom to marry outside of your ethnicity, and/or the freedom to be gay or lesbian without having to hide it. The greatest generation fought and died for our freedom, but their children fought and died for our right to exercise that freedom. Where's their monument?

-- J. Martinez

Salon Staff

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