What made the “Greatest Generation” great? Was it the technology available to them? No. Was it, as with today’s generation, worship of shallow politicians and movie stars? No. Per valuesofamerica.com, it was something else:
As this generation came of age, their future seemed to crash around their shoulders as the economies of the world collapsed. But this generation, following the leads of their parents and the entire heritage of America, would not surrender. They did not bow their heads in misery and despair.
During the Great Depression, the Greatest Generation, with their parents, accomplished whatever tasks opened before them. They built Hoover Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Empire State Building under budget and under schedule.
Hundreds of CCC projects around the nation were completed creating many of the courthouses of the nation, many improvements to the national parks and all manner of public work.
The burden of the Second World War fell almost entirely upon the shoulders of the Greatest Generation. Their backbones had become as strong as steel, their shoulders wide enough to carry the republic through the turmoil of complete war, through rationing, past defeat and into the atomic age.
I’ve written about my Daddy (Southern colloquialism for male parental unit) before. He was a member of the Greatest Generation. He was a Master Sergeant in World War II, who landed at Normandy, during the D-Day Invasion, as a part of an Army Engineering Unit. They went on to help clear out the concentration camps.
He never talked about the Invasion. All I knew was that he was in Europe during World War II, and his first wife sent him a “Dear Ned” letter while he was over there. When he got back, he worked at various jobs, including being a car salesman, and driving a truck for a beer distributor.
One of those jobs was as a furniture salesman for Sears. It was there where he met my Mother. She worked in Unit Control, where she ordered women’s shoes. She, too, was divorced and had a young daughter, whom my Daddy proceeded to raise as his own.
They had a daughter together, my sister, and settled into the day-to-day-business of living, believing their child raising days would soon be over.
The Lord, as he often does, had other plans. I arrived 9 years after my sister was born, and 3 days before my Mother’s 40th birthday. To this day, I believe that they were going to name me “Oops”.
I had a typical American childhood, being raised by 2 Middle Class Working Parents, in a Christian home. My parents were a little different from others. My Daddy sang in church, had a joke or story for every occasion, and made friends with every one he met. My mother was a sports fan, who loved St. Louis Cardinals Baseball and Memphis State University Tiger Basketball. She’s the one who pushed me as a child. So much so, that I wound up graduating high school 30th out of a class of 360. Our couch always seemed to have one of my sister’s friends camped out on it, who was having trouble at home. They knew where they could find a sympathetic ear.
My parents were Southern Democrats…until Ronald Wilson Reagan came along. It’s funny, looking back. I was experiencing a political awakening, while working as the Campus Radio News Director as a 20-something collegian, and so were they. As the Democratic Party they knew and loved all those years, morphed into an unrecognizable Liberal imposter of its former self, my parents bid adieu and became Republicans. So did I.
This joint political conversion should have given me a clue.
I eventually married and gained a step-son, then a daughter of my own. Looking back, as I was holding and loving my special child, I was mimicking my Daddy. My special girl is 24 now, and I value every moment I get to spend with her.
I went on to have two more step-sons, both remarkable young men now. My current step-son and his wife have presented my bride and I with a wonderful grandson, now 4 years old, as a playmate to keep around the house and send him back home when we’re through spoiling him, or, he wears us out, whichever comes first. I truly believe that his first words were:
Looking at the way I relate to him, and the way I related to my step-sons, my darling daughter, and even my niece and nephews, I look in the mirror and see my Daddy. In my 30 years of singing in churches and leading services, I’ve heard him standing right beside me, singing in my ear.
Every time I watch my Alma Mater, the University of Memphis, play basketball, or watch the St.Louis Cardinals play baseball, I think of my mother.
So, when did I turn into my parents?
It happened the moment I started accepting responsibility for those other lives that God gave me stewardship over.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.