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The Greatest Generation: Meeting the challenge of World War II

Written By | Dec 6, 2016

MISSOURI, December 6, 2017 —  From the Depression to Word War II to today, many seniors have come a long way on a road that at times was very bumpy.

No jobs during the depression left folks finding it hard to get a meal; A meal in exchange for chores, like chopping wood, became common. Any type of work would do.

The government established Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps for people that worked on the highways in order to put food on the table. Some of the countries farms experienced droughts leading to a migration of families to different parts of the country to find work.

However, you survived, you survived, and as a result the generation became very resolute. It was the beginning of America’s Greatest Generation.

Then came World War II. It began on a Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, when our nation was plunged into war by a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese .

FLICKR/Peter Shaw

The bombing of Pearl Harbor/FLICKR/Peter Shaw

Our nation was not prepared. However, the hard ship of the depression, with long days filled with nothing, it did not take long for the nation to rise to the occasion. Men and women joined the armed forces. The draft was implemented. Men were drafted for their skills regardless of age or physical fitness. The women joined the WAC’s –Women’s Army Corp. ferrying the planes to England in support of the air force.

There was a buildup of the merchant marines and of the armed service medical staff.

On the home front, there were dynamic changes in the lifestyle. The war effort was huge. At the beginning, the army had trucks where they would emulate a tank by hanging a sign on the side of the truck saying “tank.” That is just one example of how ill-equipped our military was ready for a war. Not just a war, but also a world war that covered Europe, the pacific and Asia.

Rosie the riveter was introduced into our vocabulary. Plants sprung up all over the country to provide the ammunition, equipment, planes, ships and other supportive supplies. The military had to become logistics experts to support the war fronts.

The worst maritime tragedy in U.S. history, and nobody has heard of it

Next came the sadness that today’s senior had to endure during that period. Stars in the windows, and the gold star that represented a household member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for his or her country and was killed in action. It has been many decades, but some seniors of today still remember the telegram coming in the mail. Telegrams were very heavy when the allies hit the beachhead on Normandy and the other beaches. Even today, the veterans who served in World War II still have vivid memories of those days. Not only the veterans, but also their wives who suffered so much, constantly worrying about the safety of their loved ones. What a tremendous burden they had to carry.

Despite the hardship, patriotism was abundant. No one ever thought about burning the flag. Everybody bought war bonds are the ten-cent stamp books. And even the city folks learned how to plant a garden, which was termed the victory garden. Seniors should remind the youth of today about those heroes of that time of our country who today are our senior heroes.

Some of the veterans of that time also served in Korea and once more were called on to serve our country. This again created suffering by many of our citizens.

Those who served America and fought for freedom during World War II were proud of the United States and of what it represented. Many of those same proud veterans are shocked and saddened by the lack of patriotism and pride Americans show today. Too many today not only fail to show pride for ur wonderful country, but they also lack of pride in themselves, as shown by their lack of morality. It is difficult for seniors to even understand some of the disgusting things they see around them today.

The worlds greatest generation - World War II Veterans Honor Flight - Image by Jacquie Kubin

The worlds greatest generation – World War II Veterans Honor Flight – Image by Jacquie Kubin

However, let the seniors of today continue to be good listeners and maintain patience and whenever the opportunity present itself tell the youth of today about those years gone by. This will earn you another cluster on your combat ribbon that continues to support that many seniors of today are heroes.

However, that’s from a time and place I am from.

Charles Vandegriff, Sr.

Charles spent a fifty-four-year career in technology, retiring at the director level from three major corporations. Followed by three-plus years as a freelance columnist, he has published three books, made over three hundred speeches to senior organizations, and been involved in numerous radio interviews and one television commercial. He has been married for sixty-five years, and has four children, seven grandchildren and thirteen great-grand children. Charles is also a Navy veteran.