It is my estimation that when historians look back to my generation (graduated 1988) they will conclude that a lesser percentage of us served in the U. S. Armed Forces than in any other generation previous and perhaps following.
You see, my generation came of age at the ending of the Cold War when it seemed that armed conflicts were largely a thing of the past. Yes, the first Gulf War happened just three years following my class's graduation from high school, and that did result in the enlistment of some my age, but that war came about when many my age had already set themselves on a career path, and many had already married and started families. So, few of my generation served in the military. Indeed, of all the many friends and classmates I had in school, I know of only one or two who served in the military.
As I reflect on this Veteran's Day this contrast of generations came to mind. I am afraid that so many my age have taken for granted the great sacrifices of those who went before us, those men who dedicated themselves to serving the country in very trying and dangerous times and circumstances. Men who put themselves in harm's way, so that their children could have the prospect of living in a free and safe country. These men are the one's to whom we owe the freedom we now enjoy.
I am reminded of the third stanza of America the Beautiful, our sentimental national anthem. The words of Katherine Lee Bates: "O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life! America! America! May God thy gold refine, till all success be nobleness, and ev'ry gain divine."
As I reflect on this Veteran's Day, I am deeply proud to be the son of a veteran of the U.S. Navy, who served in the Vietnam War, and who served for 20 years, and the grandson of a veteran of the U. S. Army, who served and was wounded in World War II (Philippines).