Tom Brokaw in 2006 talking about the December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor Attack

Tom Brokaw in 2006 talking about the December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor Attack

People often refer to the World War II era United States citizens as the greatest generation.  This phrase was first coined by journalist and former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw.  Brokaw, who wrote a book in 1998 entitled The Greatest Generation, reflected in the book on the incredible achievements and humble demeanor of the WWII generation.   Though everyone may not agree, no one can dispute the transformative events this generation experienced and how they were willing to step up to the plate and do whatever had to be done to ‘get the job done’.

 

The World War II generation was too young to remember the First World War and the modest experience of economic prosperity of the 1920s.  But by 1929, when the Great Depression occurred,  many had become of age.  Though they experienced the United States struggle to get back on its feet first hand, they also witnessed the transformation.

 

The United States Enters WWII

World War II began in 1939. In the early years, the United States remained neutral.  However, all that changed on December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese.  Not only did the United States enter the

One of the most recognizable icons from WWII, Rosie the Riveter represented the spirit of the era well.

One of the most recognizable icons from WWII, Rosie the Riveter represented the spirit of the era well.

war, but the entire nation came together in an effort to win the war.  And the support from this generation began immediately after the bombing with hundreds of thousands of men voluntarily enlisting in the United States military.  But the efforts and support of this generation, by far, did not stop there.

 

At home, many jobs these young volunteers held were vacated.  But those at home stepped up to the plate as well and filled those positions.  Women worked in the factories and everyone at home did their part to conserve and to raise money for the war efforts.  War bonds, victory gardens and rationing all became a proud part of the American people’s way of life.  They all did what they had to do, gave what they had to give and did so with humble pride.

 

After World War II

When World War II ended, the movement started by this generation proved to be far from over.  The military returned home and all took part in the expansion of the American economy using the values they had learned and lived – personal value, duty, honor and faith.  Many went on to make notable marks in US history while others returned to the quiet life they had known before.  Rarely did either group place any focus on ‘what they did during the war’.

 

Over the years, some have spoken openly about their involvement, while others chose not to recount their experiences.  Their piece of history would die (or died) when they did.  Even today, if you ask some of the veterans from this generation about their service, you will often hear something along this line:  “I’m not a hero.  The real

Robert Wright, a Company D Medic with the 501st in WWII, pictured here when he visited the AFHM in September 2012.

Robert Wright, a Company D Medic with the 501st in WWII, pictured here when he visited the AFHM in September 2012.

heroes are the ones who didn’t make it home.”  A few will tell you how they were fortunate enough to remain stateside during the duration of the war.  But they ALL contributed, they all signed on the bottom line not knowing what their future would hold.  What they did know is that they were willing to do whatever it took to support this country at a time it needed it most.

 

Many people share Tom Brokaw’s point of view.  They honestly feel the World War II era created “The Greatest Generation”; others, including some of the WWII veterans themselves, disagree.  What cannot be disputed though is the accomplishments, the incredible patriotism and the result this WWII generation achieved through their unselfish efforts.

 

2 Responses to World War II Era – The Greatest Generation

  1. Mark Welsh says:

    I am very involved with WW II Veterans through my work with Honor Flight West Central Florida. I recently had Cataract surgery with Dr.Stephen Weinstock. We talked about Honor Flight and some of the Items WW II Veterans have given to me. I asked him if the “Armed Forces History Museum” might be interested in having any of these. Dr. Weinstock suggested that I contact Mr. John Piazza Sr. Please pass this email on too him, if possible, and ask that he contact me via email or phone to set a time when I could show him these items of potential interest. I live in Palm Harbor, FL and plan to visit your Museum soon. It sounds like a treasure!

    Sincerely,

    Mark Welsh

    • alon2392 says:

      Thank Mark! I copied your comment and have also emailed you (I saved and removed your personal information prior to posting this reply). We appreciate your taking the time to visit our website and to think of us in regards to the items you have in your possession. I know your assistance on the Honor Flight has meant a great deal to the veterans who are able to experience it due in part to people such as yourself. The museum appreciates your part in honoring our veterans. We look forward to your visit as well. You will not be disappointed.

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