I’ve been watching the new Ken Burns documentary The War on PBS this week. To say it’s an amazing piece of work is quite an understatement. Watching our country today, it’s hard to imagine the United States actually pulling together, supporting and sticking to something like this for 5 years to see it through. Wow, just imagine that even though horrific things were happening overseas and at home, our nation’s citizens and their elected officials motivated themselves to do whatever was necessary to get the job done.
As I watch the footage and hear each person describe in their own way their experiences during WWII, it is so obvious that our generation has no concept of sacrifice. A mother who hangs more than one gold star in her window because they’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for their country is something you don’t see today. People giving up some of their own personal comforts so that the supplies needed by the troops could continue. Buying War Bonds, having scrap metal drives, planting Victory Gardens—these are things we have no experience with today. Over 407,000 United States military persons were killed in that war, with the total loss of life worldwide hovering around 72 million people. Today, the total losses in the Wars in Iraq total 3800 United States military persons. While no death of either soldier or civilian is easy, the number pales in comparison to the sacrifices our parents and grandparents generations suffered.
While our troops are in Iraq and Afghanistan, what do they hear from home today? Complaints that what they were sent to do is wrong. Complaints that it’s a war based on greed, a war with no merit. Politicians who freely voted to send troops to Iraq are now busy pointing fingers at others to make excuses to cover for their own decisions, largely because elections loom on the horizon.
We complain about gasoline prices that hover near $3/gallon, but, we still have gas to drive our luxury cars. There is little talk of supporting our troops overseas. People are long past sending care boxes and giving a little extra to make sure they have comforts from home.
It was ironic that the Ken Burns series was showing while the President of Iran was making his controversial remarks at Columbia University. I recall reading that if Hitler were alive today, they would have extended an invitation to him, too. Times and people certainly are different than they were 60+ years ago.
I can’t help but think that we have become a selfish generation. We’re focused on ourselves and our comforts. We talk openly about our rights and liberties, but, we don’t have the stomach to protect them. One of the old gentleman being interviewed last night made the comment that he sincerely hoped we were each able to truly enjoy our freedoms each and every day and that while we do he hoped we would remember those who sacrificed to protect them.
What will you be thinking about today when you speak your mind about the state of our government, our people and our world? I’ll be thinking that in other countries I’d be executed for writing something like this in my blog, but, here I can write anything I want. Freedom isn’t free. It’s just easy to make yourself think it is.