From an old man…

An interesting perspective from a friend…


I talked with a man today, an 80+ year old man. I asked him if there was anything I can get him while this Corona virus scare was gripping America.He simply smiled, looked away and said: “Let me tell you what I need! I need to believe, at some point, this country my generation fought for… I need to believe this nation we handed safely to our children and their children…I need to know this generation will quit being a bunch of sissies…that they respect what they’ve been given…that they’ve earned what others sacrificed for.”

I wasn’t sure where the conversation was going or if it was going anywhere at all. So, I sat there, quietly observing. “You know, I was a little boy during WWII. Those were scary days. We didn’t know if we were going to be speaking English, German or Japanese at the end of the war. There was no certainty, no guarantees like Americans enjoy today. And no home went without sacrifice or loss. Every house, up and down every street, had someone in harm’s way. Maybe their Daddy was a soldier, maybe their son was a sailor, maybe it was an uncle. Sometimes it was the whole damn family…fathers, sons, uncles…

Having someone, you love, sent off to war…it wasn’t less frightening than it is today. It was scary as Hell. If anything, it was more frightening.  We didn’t have battle front news. We didn’t have email or cellphones. You sent them away and you hoped…you prayed. You may not hear from them for months, if ever.  Sometimes a mother was getting her son’s letters the same day Dad was comforting her over their child’s death.

And we sacrificed. You couldn’t buy things. Everything was rationed. You were only allowed so much milk per month, only so much bread, toilet paper. EVERYTHING was restricted for the war effort. And what you weren’t using, what you didn’t need, things you threw away, they were saved and sorted for the war effort. My generation was the original recycling movement in America.

And we had viruses back then…serious viruses. Things like polio, measles, and such.  It was nothing to walk to school and pass a house or two that was quarantined.  We didn’t shut down our schools. We didn’t shut down our cities. We carried on, without masks, without hand sanitizer. And do you know what? We persevered. We overcame. We didn’t attack our President, we came together. We rallied around the flag for the war. Thick or thin, we were in it to win. And we would lose more boys in an hour of combat than we lose in entire wars today.” He slowly looked away again. Maybe I saw a small tear in the corner of his eye. 

Then he continued: “Today’s kids don’t know sacrifice. They think a sacrifice is not having coverage on their phone while they freely drive across the country. Today’s kids are selfish and spoiled.  In my generation, we looked out for our elders. We helped out with single moms who’s husbands were either at war or dead from war. Today’s kids rush the store, buying everything they can…no concern for anyone but themselves.  It’s shameful the way Americans behave these days. None of them deserve the sacrifices their granddads made.

So, no I don’t need anything. I appreciate your offer but, I know I’ve been through worse things than this virus. But maybe I should be asking you, what can I do to help you?  Do you have enough pop to get through this, enough steak? Will you be able to survive with 113 channels on your tv?”

I smiled, fighting back a tear of my own…now humbled by a man in his 80’s. All I could do was thank him for the history lesson, leave my number for emergency and leave with my ego firmly tucked in my rear.

I talked to a man today. A real man. An American man from an era long gone and forgotten. We will never understand the sacrifices. We will never fully earn their sacrifices. But we should work harder to learn about them..learn from them…to respect them.

Words to think about… We have grown soft… Sigh…


From an old man… — 8 Comments

  1. Hey Old NFO;

    We as a nation has gone soft, You, I amd many others of our “Tribe” has spoken of it. The generation that did WWII survived the great depression which culled the weak. Unfortunately the same ones that survived WWII wanted to make sure that their kids didn’t suffer like they did and made things too easy for them. Now we have people that are weak passing their values to the younger generation and the cycle continues.

  2. There are still tough, selfless men and women around, but at times appear far fewer than there used to be. (or is that an artifact of who gets the attention these days?) Maybe that’s one reason for the divide in the country – between the entitled brats and leeches on one side and the contributors to and guardians of society on the other. All being stirred up by the media and some (most?) politicians. The shenanigans this week by Schumer and Pelosi et al. are disgusting and make me want to slap them!

  3. I saw the new Midway movie the other day. It got me thinking about my father and a friend of his. To me they seemed like just a couple of dads, but I found out years later that the friend was a bombardier on the raid that sank the Yamato in 1945 at the same time my dad was schlepping a Browning across Germany and Czechoslovakia. I don’t know that they even talked to each other about those experiences. They sure as hell didn’t talk to me about it.
    This reminds me to call my uncle. He was born in ’35 and is the last one in his generation in the family.

  4. God bless him and those of that generation. Real heroes, not some clown that can throw a ball or grunt on a stage. We must live up to their example.

  5. I am old enough to have been told the stories by my parents and grandparents about the times during WWII. I also grew up in a time where the Polio vaccine was brand new and I knew people who had Polio and others who had been sent away for having TB. I spent years interacting with WWII veterans due to my activities involved with VFWs and American Legions and heard the stories that they would tell. What impressed me the most was the respect they had for each other and the nation as a result of those trying times.

    I am sickened with the selfishness of our younger generations. This panic is driven by selfish fears and not out of a concern for the nation. All of this is fanned by a media who has no respect for the nation or its leaders when they are not pro-socialism. Politicians using this crisis to pad their pet projects is nauseating to me. Politicians using this crisis to promote their careers is sickening to me.

    While I am posting to this blog via my lap top, it is not the center of my existence and I think our obsession with instant gratification via the internet will be our ultimate undoing. People have lost sight of their community and instead focused on themselves and their ‘LIKES’ which is pure vanity and nothing else. I have no time for that and I do not have the need to ‘ration’ my daily usage as I have better things to do with my time so I spend enough time outside of this faux world to understand the reality of our times.

    This 80 year old represents the dwindling end of the greatest generation of citizens who weathered the worst storm to have ever assaulted our nation and came out the better for having done so. I count myself as being fortunate to have known as many of that generation as I did. I miss their frank and sincere beliefs in our nation and the good we represent. Once the Boomers are gone all connections to this heritage of patriots will be gone. Lord help these Millennials Gen x, y, z and the rest when that day comes.

  6. Bad- Excellent point!

    Glenda- My dad was in WWI… I remember those same things. Thanks for your comments.