September 2, 2015

76° Fair

The Generation

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 1, 2014

Seventy-years ago Saturday Allied Forces stormed the beaches of Normandy in an effort that would ultimately change the course of history.
The soldiers that fought, bled and died on the beaches of northern France in that great struggle for freedom would become known as the Greatest Generation. The term “The Greatest Generation” originated from Tom Brokaw’s 1998 book of the same name. While that term is true of our fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers, it doesn’t do justice to their sacrifice.
Prior to World War II, America was still considered a backwater throughout the world. True we had fought in World War I, yet we were mired in The Great Depression. World War II was a defining time for our country. Our leaders realized that with advancing technology we were no longer safe on our own soil. The vast expanses of two oceans were not enough to keep hostile countries from invading.
The Greatest Generation sacrificed everything they had and risked life and limb to ensure that America had a future free from tyranny. Thousands upon thousands left home and traveled great distances to foreign lands and suffered the agony of war so that today we could live in the greatest nation on Earth.
That generation marched off to war knowing full well what was transpiring in Europe and a greater cause was calling them. They truly were the greatest generation, but they were the generation that would define America for the next 70-years.
Travel was not something that Americans did a lot of prior to WWII, and many of the luxuries that we enjoy today were established during and shortly after the end of that war.
No generation has defined America as much as that one, except maybe our founding fathers. Thomas Jefferson said “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” No one understood that better than those who marched off to eventually land on those French beaches.
A trip to Normandy is one that I long to take with my son. To truly appreciate the sacrifices of THE GENERATION I think I need to walk between the rows upon rows of crosses, then their sacrifice will be apparent.
Not many of those boys who landed 70-years ago are still around, but if you see one be sure to shake their hand and thank them for your freedom, because it isn’t free. It was paid for with precious lives and patriotic blood.

Paul Barry is the managing editor and can be reached by email at paul.barry@vicksburgpost.com or by phone at 601-636-4545 ext. 123.