Two of the men who had the most influence on my life were part of what many call “The Greatest Generation.”
The attack on Pearl Harbor changed their live in ways most people today can barely imagine. Shortly after the events of 75 years ago, Chet Fair enlisted in the Navy. John Esposito enlisted in the Marines.
Chet put a promising career on hold, not knowing when (or if) he would return. In John’s case, well, I have a feeling he might have stretched his age a little to join the mission.
Both men spent the next several years of their young lives in the war in the Pacific. Both returned, for which my wife (John’s daughter) and I (Chet’s son) are deeply grateful.
Neither man talked much about their war experiences. I can’t really relate to what they faced. Sure, there have been wars since then, heroes have fought – and often died – for their country.
But World War II combined the ability to create mass death and destruction with the inability to communicate quickly or effectively. No cell phones. No satellite links. No internet.
Just handwritten letters sent to an unknown location, perhaps sent to someone already dead.
What times of fear, unknown – and hope. Without hope, no one would have survived the long war, the not knowing the fate of loved ones.
I think of Chet and John a lot at this time of year. What a poignant Christmas it must have been 75 years ago.
And I’m thinking about them often this year as I read news reports of people in a state of self-imposed despair because of the outcome of the recent elections.
The comments by a feminist writer struck me; she broke up with her boyfriend because she said there was no hope left, no reason to marry, no reason to have children.
No hope? How ridiculous, how lacking in faith.
I can’t imagine what Chet and John would think. They didn’t know, 75 years ago, that they were part of “The Greatest Generation.” But they might think that they left our nation in the care of the worst generation.
I have too much hope to believe that. My hope is that today’s Americans will regain hope and find its way to greatness.