David McCullough, one of the greatest American writers of our times, often tells of his conversation with a young journalist prior to going on the air. They were speaking of D-Day and Mr. McCullough had mentioned Normandy Beach. The journalist asked, “What other books did Norman D. Beech write?”
I think it is hard for societies to retain the lessons of history past a generation or two. Just over 70 years ago, World War II came to an end. It was so impactful on the lives of my parents (born in 1929 and 1931) that my father dared not let us grow up without some understanding of the sacrifices of so many on my behalf. My Mom’s brother was lost in a Liberator over the Pacific. Nobody knows what happened. My mother still cries when she talks about the day her parents got the telegram with the grim news. My Uncle Jack was a navigator on a B-17 and was part of the daylight bombing effort over Germany. He barely escaped death when his plane was shot down over the North Sea.
American families have been making sacrifices for this great land since before 1776 and through just this week. There are Americans working right now in foreign countries and behind the scenes everywhere trying to stay in front of the next way madmen will try to kill a bunch of us. They are patriots all, in my opinion. I pray this is something on which all can agree.
The adults I grew up around, including the teachers of my youth, still felt WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam close by. They were not bashful about expressing their pride in America and their love of country. I had several teachers who went through the words of all of our patriotic hymns and explained the deep meaning and beauty of nearly every word. Most of my teachers were visibly unnerved when one of us appeared to be making a mockery of the Pledge of Allegiance by scratching our butts, picking our nose, or pulling someone’s hair. I can still remember a lecture from a WWII veteran who said he felt deeply sorry for people who didn’t get goose bumps when they heard the Star Spangled Banner. Do people even talk like this anymore?
I lived in Spain for two years when it was no fun to be an American in Europe. “Fuera, Yanqui!” was something I never got used to. One day, the USS America (aircraft carrier), entered the harbor at Valencia. The American flag on the bridge was flying high and I learned something about goose bumps.
I was thinking of these things early this morning. My thoughts motivated me to put together a 4th of July video. I hope you like it.