To the Editor:
Lest we forget.
Our great American Heroes who endured the Great Depression and then fought World War II have received well deserved recognition by our 60s generation. Tom Brokaw published two books of “The Greatest Generation” that tell how ordinary people do their duty and hints that such conduct was unique – out of the ordinary.
I agree we should never forget them and what they have done for our country. However, that war eventually brought on the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Both of these conflicts were by and large opposed by most of our country’s so called leading citizens, most of whom did not serve. The “brightest and best” of the Vietnam age group made headlines by critiquing their parent’s generation for bringing about a war they would not fight and refuse to remember.
Campus leaders urged fellow baby boomers not to trust anyone over 30. They taught that their elders who survived the Great Depression and fought the largest war in history were out of touch. The better academic institutions became focal points for protests against the war with few of their graduates going into the military. Harvard College, which had lost 691 in World War II, lost a total of 12 men in Vietnam from the classes of 1962 through 1972 combined. Those classes at Princeton lost 6, at MIT, 2. The media also turned hostile toward those who served. Frequently the reward for a young man who went through the trauma of combat was to be greeted by his peers with indifference or outright hostility.
However, those who grew up on the other side of the fence chose to serve in the military during the Vietnam War are quite different than their peers who claimed to speak for them. In fact, they are much like the World War II generation itself. For them, Woodstock was a slide show, college protestors were spoiled brats who would have benefited from having to work a few jobs to pay for their tuition. Vietnam was not an exercise in avoiding the draft and protest marches. Vietnam was a battlefield that was just as brutal as those their fathers faced in World War II and Korea.
Few who served during Vietnam ever complained of a generation gap. The men who fought World War II were their heroes and role models. They honored their father’s service by emulating it and largely agreed with their father’s wisdom in attempting to stop Communism’s reach in Southeast Asia.
We have another generation today who are putting themselves in harms way for freedom loving people throughout the world. We should not forget them. They and their families need our support and prayers.
American Legion Post 375