I wonder if you've noticed that we are losing an awfully lot of World War II veterans. It seems to me like almost every day at least one of the printed obituaries is for a veteran of that war.
Last week I went to two funerals. While neither of them fought in WW II, they were both of that generation. It makes me proud that I got to know them both, even a little bit. I've been blessed to know many others, too, in that generation. And, unfortunately, I have attended many of their funerals, especially in the past few years.
As I've pointed out before, the folks in what's called the Greatest Generation are the ones who not only interrupted their lives for three or four years to fight and win the war that kept our country free, they returned home afterward and set to work building their own lives and their communities. They contributed in countless ways to make things better. Many of them stepped up to be our school board members, our township trustees, the leaders of our youth groups, our Sunday School teachers. They served as volunteers on the boards of our local grain elevators, city councils, and independent telephone companies, to name just a few.
It's always seemed so unfair to me that this generation who lived through the Great Depression - some with serious hardships at home - was also the ones who were called to go out and fight a war just when the country was coming out of the Depression. When I voiced this observation to Virgil Scott, a local WW II veteran and POW as I interviewed him some years back, he had an interesting reply I've always remembered: "You know," said this unassuming man who was held as a prisoner of war in Germany, "maybe the reason we did win the war is because guys like me had lived through the Depression when we had to do without. Those were hard times, and I didn't have much at home. That made it easier on us to make it through the war."
We have already lost so many of that generation. It feels to me like the Old Guard is officially changing. Now it's time for the next generation or two to step up. These are awesome shoes to fill as those we've always considered the pillars of our communities, perhaps, step aside. It's our turn. And I bet we can do it just fine.
After all, we've been given some strong role models.