Remembering the Greatest Generation

Tuesday, May 11, 2010
by Patrick Dorinson

Today is the 65th Anniversary of V-E Day or Victory in Europe.

At 0241 Hr on 7 May 1945, German General Alfred Jodl signed the instrument of surrender at Reims, France in a small red brick schoolhouse that served as the Headquarters for General Eisenhower and the victorious allies.

All hostilities were to cease the following day at 2301 hr on 8 May 1945.

In Britain, France and Russia there will be celebrations commemorating this solemn yet joyful event. But here in America there will hardly be a word spoken. When I picked up my morning paper I could not find one mention of it. The only place you read about those who fought the war is on the obituary pages as the march of time reduces their numbers daily. By the time the 70th Anniversary rolls around in 2015, we will be down to a handful.

The largest celebration will be in Moscow where troops from the victorious Allied nations will once again march together to commemorate the end of the war in Europe.

President Obama was invited to attend but he told Putin he could not and offered send Vice President Biden instead. The Russians said no thanks and the United States will be represented by our Ambassador.

He can fly to Copenhagen to try to save Chicago’s bid for the Olympics but he can’t fly to Moscow for an historical celebration?

John McCain would have gone as would have Ronald Reagan. I’ll bet even old Bill Clinton would have understood the significance and would have attended. I hope the President isn’t playing golf.

I am truly sorry that our President and our nation will let this event pass with hardly a mention. President Obama could have used the occasion to rally the people of America and the world to once again join together to fight the War on Terror wherever it raises its ugly head be it in Times Square or a Moscow subway. Then again he doesn’t believe there is a War on Terror.

Are we so self-centered and pre-occupied with our own troubles that we can’t pause and give what might possibly be a final thank you to those who defeated the evil and barbaric Nazi regime? How about a job well done to those who stormed the beaches of Normandy? Cannot we give a shout out to those who liberated Buchenwald, Auschwitz and Dachau?

When I look at World War ll and the great sacrifices that America made both at home and overseas to assure final victory, I wonder if we are capable of doing the same today.

After the Japanese sneak attack Pearl Harbor in 1941, men rushed to the recruiting centers to join in the fight. Men from all regions, races and religions, Americans all, came together to form one of the most powerful military forces ever seen. From citizens to soldiers in the blink of an eye.

Even those Hollywood actors like Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable who lead more privileged lives joined up and served their country.

After the rush of patriotism following 9-11, there was a lot of flag waving but no real rush to the recruiting centers.

And the metrosexual males who now make up our Hollywood celebrity culture, did absolutely nothing. Until it became fashionable to criticize the war in Iraq and then they did rush to do something. They rushed to make movies that portrayed America as the aggressor and our soldiers as misguided cold blooded killers.

We are in a situation that bears many similarities to the 1930s just before the war began. A global economic crisis, saber rattling dictators and determined terrorists make up this volatile stew that threatens to boil over at any moment.

Will we answer as our parents and grandparents did over 65 years ago with great resolve to see the job through or will we shrink from our responsibility and watch the world descend into chaos.

The choice is ours. How we answer will determine the future of this nation and the world.