Saturday, March 21, 2020

I talked to a man today

Shared from a facebook post, original author unknown

I talked with a man today, an 80+ year old man. I asked him if there was anything I can get him while this Coronavirus scare was gripping America.

He simply smiled, looked away and said:

"Let me tell you what I need! I need to believe, at some point, this country my generation fought for... I need to believe this nation we handed safely to our children and their children...

I need to know this generation will quit being a bunch of sissies...that they respect what they've been given...that they've earned what others sacrificed for."

I wasn't sure where the conversation was going or if it was going anywhere at all. So, I sat there, quietly observing.

"You know, I was a little boy during WWII. Those were scary days. We didn't know if we were going to be speaking English, German or Japanese at the end of the war. There was no certainty, no guarantees like Americans enjoy today.

And no home went without sacrifice or loss. Every house, up and down every street, had someone in harm's way. Maybe their Daddy was a soldier, maybe their son was a sailor, maybe it was an uncle. Sometimes it was the whole damn family...fathers, sons, uncles...

Having someone, you love, sent off to wasn't less frightening than it is today. It was scary as Hell. If anything, it was more frightening. We didn't have battle front news. We didn't have email or cellphones. You sent them away and you prayed. You may not hear from them for months, if ever. Sometimes a mother was getting her son's letters the same day Dad was comforting her over their child's death.

And we sacrificed. You couldn't buy things. Everything was rationed. You were only allowed so much milk per month, only so much bread, toilet paper. EVERYTHING was restricted for the war effort. And what you weren't using, what you didn't need, things you threw away, they were saved and sorted for the war effort. My generation was the original recycling movement in America.

And we had viruses back then...serious viruses. Things like polio, measles, and such. It was nothing to walk to school and pass a house or two that was quarantined. We didn't shut down our schools. We didn't shut down our cities. We carried on, without masks, without hand sanitizer. And do you know what? We persevered. We overcame. We didn't attack our President, we came together. We rallied around the flag for the war. Thick or thin, we were in it to win. And we would lose more boys in an hour of combat than we lose in entire wars today."

He slowly looked away again. Maybe I saw a small tear in the corner of his eye. Then he continued:

"Today's kids don't know sacrifice. They think a sacrifice is not having coverage on their phone while they freely drive across the country. Today's kids are selfish and spoiled. In my generation, we looked out for our elders. We helped out with single moms who's husbands were either at war or dead from war. Today's kids rush the store, buying everything they concern for anyone but themselves. It's shameful the way Americans behave these days. None of them deserve the sacrifices their granddads made.

So, no I don't need anything. I appreciate your offer but, I know I've been through worse things than this virus. But maybe I should be asking you, what can I do to help you? Do you have enough pop to get through this, enough steak? Will you be able to survive with 113 channels on your tv?"

I smiled, fighting back a tear of my humbled by a man in his 80's. All I could do was thank him for the history lesson, leave my number for emergency and leave with my ego firmly tucked in my rear.

I talked to a man today. A real man. An American man from an era long gone and forgotten. We will never understand the sacrifices. We will never fully earn their sacrifices. But we should work harder to learn about them..learn from respect them.


Canuckguy said...

Hey Lew. Well as a baby boomer(born 1949), both my parents served overseas and I certainly appreciated what that generation(called the Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw) went through and accomplished. I became aware at a young age by reading books of the war that my father had lying around and that generated an interest in history in general. I have to agree with the sentiments of that posting but I wonder if it is not made up. That was certainly a long speech to remember. Regardless the point is well made. On another topic, are you keeping a low profile lately what with all this worrisome virus thing?

LewWaters said...

Hey there, Canuck, nice to see you again.

Yes, I'm staying in, watching Netflix a lot and pretty much pulled bak from political involvement.

As a fellow boomer (1948) this piece grabbed at me too. The sacrifices prior generations made for us is unbelievable compared to today.

Keep your head down up there and stay safe. We'll get through this bug

Canuckguy said...

Started movie watching last week. So far I watched "Gone with the Wind" "The Ten Commandants" and "Contagion", a 2011 movie starring Matt Damon that is so spot on considering what is going on these days. Plus "The Amazing Spider Man". Plus a lot of news casts both USA and Canada. They better come up with a vaccine soon. Take care my fellow boomer. We got that in common. In one big way, we are different. You are a war vet. I admire that.

LewWaters said...

Thank you, Canuck. I do have to say, though, my favorite piece of appreciation in regards to Veterans comes from your country with Terry Kelly's A Pittance of Time.

I get chills every time I watch and hear it.

For me otherwise, my time has been spent binging on Netflix shows. I've seen the movies you mention, other than Spiderman and like them all.

You take care, my friend

Unknown said...

"I talked to a man today. A real man."

Sure. A man who did not go to war, who stayed safe at home and only had to endure a few years of rationing.

An ungrateful man who mocks and insults the young person who came offering help. Who says young people care only about themselves, even when the younger one is there to help the old man. Who sends this young person away feeling deflated.

An old man who called the young person a selfish sissy.

An ignorant man who thinks people took no precautions during the polio epidemic or the 1918 flu and that only sissies would do that. He should read some history.

An egotistical man who brags about his sacrifices and says young people don't know what sacrifice is. He should say that to the face of a young person who risked life and limb in one of our never-ending, unwinnable wars.

An old, ignorant, ungrateful man who deserves no respect.

Tom Fields