Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Greatest Generation Lives

I have been visiting with The Colonel now for four days. It's a melancholy thing. I don't think I'm sad, just melancholy. During these four days I have taken care of the most personal things for The Colonel. I have dressed him and undressed him. I have washed him and shaved him. I have helped him in the bathroom. I am glad to be able to do these things for him but it makes me melancholy.

I have mentioned before that The Colonel is a member of the Greatest Generation. His generation literally saved world freedom during WW II. His generation was young then. His generation did the dirty work of the war. They were the Privates and Lieutenants. They were the "heavy lifters" and took the brunt of the violence that was WW II.

Last night I took The Colonel to the annual Retired Officers Association Christmas banquet that was held at the facility where he lives. The Colonel is a past president of this organization and many of his close friends are members. He was looking forward to the event.

This is where the title of this post comes in....You have to understand that Columbus, GA is the home of Fort Benning. Fort Benning is the home of the Infantry. It has been an Infantry post since well before WW II. Soldiers who were Rangers trained here. If a soldier was an airborne trooper, he trained here. This place is warriors on steroids. Most of the retired officers who live in the area are combat veterans.

There were about 75 people at the event last night. Most of them were members of the Greatest Generation. It was a coat and tie affair and most everyone wore their military decorations on their coat lapels. Among the decorations I saw were at least two Distinguished Service Crosses. There were also numerous Silver Stars and Bronze Stars. Combat Infantryman's Badge with multiple stars were quite common as were jump wings with stars.

I was in awe. The Distinguished Service Cross is the nation's second highest decoration for valor. Second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor. The Distinguished Service Cross is ONLY awarded for "extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force". Silver Stars and Bronze Stars are also awarded for "valor in the face of the enemy".

The average age of the attendants had to be about 80 with a number of people in the 85+ range. The oldest was a good friend of The Colonel and was 94 years old. Because of my position in the scheme of life...being the son of a retired army officer, I am well aware of the sacrifices and contributions of this generation. I wonder if the generation after me has any idea of how great these people really are? I guess the reality is that they do not. It's a shame. The Greatest Generation lives, but they are fading fast!

Today is my last day here and I'll be doing whatever I can to make remaining time good for The Colonel. The good news is that brother #3 will be here for a visit in early January.

Thanks for visiting.

1 comment:

Odat said...

Thank the Colonel for me.



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