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  • Greatest Generation?

    With all due respect and glory to the vets of WWII (whichever side they fought for), but does anyone else, especially the Civil War and WWI bufs, think that the title “The Greatest Generation” may not be warranted?

    Those guys in the US Civil War, marching by the tens of thousands into what was almost certain death, and yet doing it again and again; and the French, Commonwealth, German, Russian and, to a lesser degree, American, doing the same in WWI seems to me to be pretty impressive.

    We make a great thing of the D-Day invasion - yet US causalities weren’t really that great. The truth is that most of the US servicemen and women really didn’t know much about world affairs and were simply doing what they thought was expected of them. My own mother, who is an educated woman, was a teen during WWII and constantly amazes me as to how little she knows of how world events related to cause and fight the war.

    I’m sure others can add to my examples (the Napoleonic Wars?). It seems to me if you put it all in perspective “The Greatest Generation” was any generation that went to war, which is pretty much any human generation.

  • #2
    I think the concept, the title and what was in the book were all bull. I agree with you, generations all through time go to war for different reasons and fight bravely. Your example of the Civil War is a good one since they were fighting their own countrymen. Brokaw's examples were fine men but as I read I wondered what was so great about them. They seemed your average American and sometimes the affect of the war was horrible. These men were not made of steel.
    Well, I'm sure it made him a ton of money.
    John

    Play La Marseillaise. Play it!

    Comment


    • #3
      The WWII generation was great because it had to be. They did what they had to do because they had not choice, and no one was going to give them any outs not to. You went to work because you had to. You didn't take sick leave, because you couldn't. You couldn't shirk because no one would let you. You couldn't game the system because there wasn't one to game. You couldn't make excuses because no one wanted to hear them.

      They were great, no doubt. But they were great because they had no other choice but to get the job done, because that is what you did back then and no one wanted to hear or see otherwise.

      Today we celebrate mediocrity and praise lack of greatness. As long as you did your best......

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by mimike View Post
        We make a great thing of the D-Day invasion - yet US causalities weren’t really that great. The truth is that most of the US servicemen and women really didn’t know much about world affairs and were simply doing what they thought was expected of them. My own mother, who is an educated woman, was a teen during WWII and constantly amazes me as to how little she knows of how world events related to cause and fight the war.
        We don't measure success in causalities. D-Day is important because it established another front on the continent of Europe. The truth is that most men and many women ran to join up. That includes many that were exempt from the war... I've heard of countless examples of this. They understood more then you think or there wouldn't have been as much interest in joining the fight.

        Originally posted by mimike View Post
        I’m sure others can add to my examples (the Napoleonic Wars?). It seems to me if you put it all in perspective “The Greatest Generation” was any generation that went to war, which is pretty much any human generation.
        I don't actually like titles but if one were labeling them that title might be fitting. They are the only generation that actually saved the world from tyranny.
        My worst jump story:
        My 13th jump was on the 13th day of the month, aircraft number 013.
        As recorded on my DA Form 1307 Individual Jump Log.
        No lie.

        ~
        "Everything looks all right. Have a good jump, eh."
        -2 Commando Jumpmaster

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by mimike View Post
          With all due respect and glory to the vets of WWII (whichever side they fought for), but does anyone else, especially the Civil War and WWI bufs, think that the title “The Greatest Generation” may not be warranted?

          Those guys in the US Civil War, marching by the tens of thousands into what was almost certain death, and yet doing it again and again; and the French, Commonwealth, German, Russian and, to a lesser degree, American, doing the same in WWI seems to me to be pretty impressive.

          We make a great thing of the D-Day invasion - yet US causalities weren’t really that great. The truth is that most of the US servicemen and women really didn’t know much about world affairs and were simply doing what they thought was expected of them. My own mother, who is an educated woman, was a teen during WWII and constantly amazes me as to how little she knows of how world events related to cause and fight the war.

          I’m sure others can add to my examples (the Napoleonic Wars?). It seems to me if you put it all in perspective “The Greatest Generation” was any generation that went to war, which is pretty much any human generation.
          The greatest generation as far as the UK is concerned is often referring to the generation that fought in WW2 but in reality it was comprised of two generations for our parents lived and fought through WW1 as well as the second World war as there was only twenty years between.So I think in all fairness it should reffer to the generation from the first WW to be the most likely candidates for they had the two wars and in between was the terrible depression. Regarding your Mums lack of knowledge about things that lead up to WW2, it is understandable for in those days there was no TV, no passenger service by air across the Atlantic etc: so the 'big pond' kept America a fair bit more remote from the goings on in Europe compared with nowadays. Mind you I have had Kids in this country,(Australia) ask me "where is Normandy" ? So it must be a mixture of distance and lack of school education on particular subjects. lcm1
          Last edited by lcm1; 31 Aug 12, 01:14.
          'By Horse by Tram'.


          I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
          " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

          Comment


          • #6
            At the risk of jumping is as a total outsider, the "Greatest generation" is part of a pretty considerable, and frankly obvious, myth-making as part of national identy building in the three major victorious powers in WWII: the US, the UK and the Russia (as in formerly the USSR).

            It comes with an assumption that nations can, and should, be evaluated on their "works", even reltively long after the fact (and when the blokes what went and did it aren't necessarily around anymore), and then WWII is submitted for scrutiny. I.e. if asked the question what the US/UK/Russia is all about? - reference may be made to WWII.

            The practice has a kind of exhortative function as well, in relation to other nations not part of the trio. It can be used as a challenge. If WWII was actually defining for what the US/UK/Russia is, then by analogy it should follow that it tells you something equally significant about everyone else...

            But of course the Germans, the Italians, the Japanese, and the French as well, can be found to absolutely deny that their WWII says anything lasting and fundamental about these nations. In particular in the Germans case it's even quite the the serious national project that WWII absolutely must not ever again be possible to associate with the German nation as it now is.

            So WWII tends to be part of what to many Americans, British and Russians offers an answer to "who we are", but won't for the Italians, Japanese or French, and absolutely must not for the Germans.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by mimike View Post
              With all due respect and glory to the vets of WWII (whichever side they fought for), but does anyone else, especially the Civil War and WWI bufs, think that the title “The Greatest Generation” may not be warranted?

              Those guys in the US Civil War, marching by the tens of thousands into what was almost certain death, and yet doing it again and again; and the French, Commonwealth, German, Russian and, to a lesser degree, American, doing the same in WWI seems to me to be pretty impressive.

              We make a great thing of the D-Day invasion - yet US causalities weren’t really that great. The truth is that most of the US servicemen and women really didn’t know much about world affairs and were simply doing what they thought was expected of them. My own mother, who is an educated woman, was a teen during WWII and constantly amazes me as to how little she knows of how world events related to cause and fight the war.

              I’m sure others can add to my examples (the Napoleonic Wars?). It seems to me if you put it all in perspective “The Greatest Generation” was any generation that went to war, which is pretty much any human generation.
              I think the title, 'The Greatest Generation' is meant to be for those who participated on the Allied side in WW2, not the entire World, and it seems to be primarily intended by Americans when referring to their own countrymen and women of that time (even though anyone on the Allied side could be seen to have a fair claim, as noted).

              My take on the idea behind this is not just that they fought in a great war as such, or supported those who fought, but it refers to the evil they saved us from in doing so. Even if many of them had little choice.

              That, IMO, is the intention behind the whole idea of that title.
              Last edited by panther3485; 31 Aug 12, 09:16.
              "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
              Vice Admiral Beatty to Flag Captain Chatfield; Battle of Jutland, 31 May - 1 June, 1916.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Johan Banér View Post
                At the risk of jumping is as a total outsider, the "Greatest generation" is part of a pretty considerable, and frankly obvious, myth-making as part of national identy building in the three major victorious powers in WWII: the US, the UK and the Russia (as in formerly the USSR).

                It comes with an assumption that nations can, and should, be evaluated on their "works", even reltively long after the fact (and when the blokes what went and did it aren't necessarily around anymore), and then WWII is submitted for scrutiny. I.e. if asked the question what the US/UK/Russia is all about? - reference may be made to WWII.

                The practice has a kind of exhortative function as well, in relation to other nations not part of the trio. It can be used as a challenge. If WWII was actually defining for what the US/UK/Russia is, then by analogy it should follow that it tells you something equally significant about everyone else...

                But of course the Germans, the Italians, the Japanese, and the French as well, can be found to absolutely deny that their WWII says anything lasting and fundamental about these nations. In particular in the Germans case it's even quite the the serious national project that WWII absolutely must not ever again be possible to associate with the German nation as it now is.

                So WWII tends to be part of what to many Americans, British and Russians offers an answer to "who we are", but won't for the Italians, Japanese or French, and absolutely must not for the Germans.
                Yes indeed. It is human nature, and perfectly understandable, that people will want to remind themselves of an association with something that seems to reflect well on their country. At the same time, if certain historical events are seen to reflect badly on one's country there is an equally natural desire to distance yourself from it.
                "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
                Vice Admiral Beatty to Flag Captain Chatfield; Battle of Jutland, 31 May - 1 June, 1916.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The Greatest Generation as a term came about with a book first published in 1998.

                  Can anybody say when this so called greatest Generation started and ended? What about the Baby Boomers or the Slient Generation?

                  What generation made it through the 60's, American. Very unpopular war, massive changes in domistic policy (civil rights), major riots in major citys of the country and...they still sent men to the Moon and brought them back all the while in the middle of the Cold War. That was no easy act to pull off.
                  "Ask not what your country can do for you"

                  Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

                  you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
                    The Greatest Generation as a term came about with a book first published in 1998.

                    Can anybody say when this so called greatest Generation started and ended? What about the Baby Boomers or the Slient Generation?

                    What generation made it through the 60's, American. Very unpopular war, massive changes in domistic policy (civil rights), major riots in major citys of the country and...they still sent men to the Moon and brought them back all the while in the middle of the Cold War. That was no easy act to pull off.
                    Yes, good points John. 'Generations' as such are not usually precisely defined. They are generally spoken of in terms of particular events or periods of time; so that people born, growing up, or doing certain things within a specific time frame get labelled as the generation doing it.
                    "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
                    Vice Admiral Beatty to Flag Captain Chatfield; Battle of Jutland, 31 May - 1 June, 1916.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by panther3485 View Post
                      Yes indeed. It is human nature, and perfectly understandable, that people will want to remind themselves of an association with something that seems to reflect well on their country. At the same time, if certain historical events are seen to reflect badly on one's country there is an equally natural desire to distance yourself from it.
                      You will all note (I hope) that I did put at the start of my contribution 'as far as the UK is concerned' thus making a British claim for the British and Britain and which generation deserved that claim. Myself nominating my Father and Mothers generation.I did not consider that I was putting it up against other countries,so you Yank and Froggie supporters can stop your groaning and rattling of chains!! lcm1
                      'By Horse by Tram'.


                      I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
                      " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'm undre the impression that the WWII generation is called "the greatest one"because they didn't want anything back - they went, fought on foreigh lands, came back, finished the Great Deppression, and didn't want anything for it. At least this is the explanation I have heard in the states - morality more than fighting is what earned them this title.

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                        • #13
                          Yeah, they were great. But what have they done for you lately?
                          "This life..., you know, "the life." You’re not gonna get any medals, kid. This is not a hero business; you don’t shoot people from a mile a way. You gotta stand right next to them... blow their heads off."

                          BoRG

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
                            The Greatest Generation as a term came about with a book first published in 1998.

                            Can anybody say when this so called greatest Generation started and ended? What about the Baby Boomers or the Slient Generation?

                            What generation made it through the 60's, American. Very unpopular war, massive changes in domistic policy (civil rights), major riots in major citys of the country and...they still sent men to the Moon and brought them back all the while in the middle of the Cold War. That was no easy act to pull off.
                            You mean like Wernher von Braun?
                            My worst jump story:
                            My 13th jump was on the 13th day of the month, aircraft number 013.
                            As recorded on my DA Form 1307 Individual Jump Log.
                            No lie.

                            ~
                            "Everything looks all right. Have a good jump, eh."
                            -2 Commando Jumpmaster

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Courageous !

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