Monday, May 28, 2001

Honor vets, skip the movie

        My dad never went to see movies about World War II. He figured he spent three years of his life fighting for his country in the real war. No need to waste his time watching Hollywood's version. Continuing the family tradition, I have no intention of seeing Pearl Harbor.

        The heavily hyped film lasts three hours.

        On this Memorial Day, I intend to spend that time thinking about the accomplishments of what has been rightfully called the Greatest Generation.

        By comparison, my generation, the Baby Boomers, still acts like a bunch of whining infants.

        Members of my parents' generation achieved greatness while overcoming unthinkable adversity. They endured the Great Depression and won World War II.

        In the process, they built a great nation, made the world safe and set the stage for an unprecedented flowering of personal liberties.

Boomers' complaint

        My generation beefs about everything. If we were a chain of stores, we'd be: Finding Fault R Us.

        As much as we complain, we have yet to chalk up a major accomplishment that measures up to what our parents did.

        The Greatest Generation made its name through self-sacrifice. These men and women joined forces, putting their private lives on hold. They had dreams to fulfill, too. But they also realized that for their world to exist, the center of their universe had to be “us,” not “I, me, my.”

        Are Baby Boomers up to the task? Signs point to no.

        The only great sacrifice my generation seems willing to make is going without a Big Mac for a day.

Attention paid

        Memorial Day honors America's war dead, those who died to preserve freedom. There is no better time than today to pay tribute to members of the World War II generation.

        Their ranks are thinning. Of 16 million World War II vets, only 5 million are still alive. They are dying at the rate of 1,100 a day, 30,000-plus a month.

        Just last week Congress, in its extremely finite wisdom, finally gave the ultimate go-ahead to build a World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.

        The memorial's completion date is set for early 2004. That's 63 years after Pearl Harbor — the attack, not the movie.

        Completing the memorial in early 2004 will be too late for many veterans. By the time the structure's arches and pillars are unveiled, almost another 1 million of the men and women in uniform during World War II will be dead.

        On this day, then, I prefer to remember the courage shown by those servicemen and women. Their dedication to duty. Their untold stories. Their teamwork.

        I'd rather listen to taps being played 1 million times for old soldiers than sit in some popcorn-scented cinema multiplex and see Pearl Harbor.

        Instead of watching the movie, I plan to contemplate what it must have been like to live in a nation where everyone worked, at the front and on the home front, for the same cause.

        Petty differences were put aside. Efforts were directed toward defeating a common enemy.

        A war was won.

        The victors were the type of men and women that movie actors and a generation of Baby Boomers can only pretend to be.

        Movie review

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