By Charlie Cook
A visit to the World War II and Vietnam War memorials demonstrates the differences between the Greatest Generation and those that followed. The former focuses on the battles that our soldiers, sailors, and airmen fought, the latter on the individuals who gave up their lives—one emphasizes the collective, the other the individual. Even though it seems that the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have been treated much better than those returning from Korea and Vietnam—who were often either ignored or spat upon—the collective sentiment of the phrase, “All gave some, but some gave all” doesn’t really seem to resonate anymore.
Sept. 11, 2001, was initially an incredibly unifying event, but soon the controversy over whether to attack Iraq redrew the old ideological boundary lines. A dozen years later, many of today’s voters and elected officials—in both parties and at both ends of the ideological spectrum—seem to have lost that sense of unity, sacrifice, and, yes, compromise. This loss clearly shows in our politics. “It’s all about me” is the mantra, even if my actions hurt the common good. Maybe the current chaotic, and sometimes almost anarchic, behavior of our leaders is partially a result of the life experiences of the past several generations. The mentality of post-Greatest Generation Americans flows from the way they (my generation included) have been raised. And America is the lesser for it.
The venerable Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, who served in the Army during World War II, is the last remaining Greatest Generation member serving in Congress. Dingell is someone from the old school if there ever was one, and hearing him talk about the change in congressional politics is a grim reminder of how things have deteriorated.
This article appears in the December 17, 2013, edition of NJ Daily as Generation Gap.
Please go to following link for the video and you will get a great laugh as it is so much fun: http://www.nationaljournal.com//off-to-the-races/fallout-from-the-me-generation-fuels-crisis-in-congress-20131216