I'm just about finished reading The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw and I couldn't wait to spread the word about how much I enjoyed this book. This is a very emotional and inspirational tribute to those of the World War II generation. He shares the stories of ordinary people who were called to serve and protect our country overseas, women who found work in factories to support the forces, heroes who gave their lives for our freedom, individuals who faced racial adversity. Brokaw pieced together the stories of this generation beautifuly. He demonstrated how this great generation played a significant role in securing the future prosperity of our country; through hard work, determination, teamwork, and the heartbreaking love stories.
Brokaw opens the book with his childhood. Growing up in the prairies of South Dakota he was surrounded by individuals who gave their service to our country in World War II. But it wasn't until he was on assignment in Normandy, France for the 40th anniversary of D-Day, that the true sacrifice and greatness of this generation hit home. Talking with American soldiers who returned to the beaches for the somber anniversary, listening to their stories, hearing the pain and sadness in their voices. Brokaw describes this experience as "a life-changing experience".
I completely understand this sentiment. What I have learned about my grandfather and his WWII experience has changed my life. Growing up I knew my grandfather, Col. Joseph K Wright, had served in WWII but had little to no interest in what he did or his story. He passed away in 2004, before I started on this journey of exploring my family history and it's place in the history and I am left with questions and a sadness for him. I am doing what I can to piece together his story, but I just wish I could have discussed it with him. Reading this book has given me such insight into the struggle and sacrifice of his generation.
In 1942 Joseph married my grandmother in Seattle, Washington where he was stationed for training, probably wanting to be married before his inevitable deployment overseas. A story so common for the time period. My grandmother was one of the lucky ones who had her sweetheart return to her alive. A byproduct of this terrible war I never considered was the vast number of young twenty something widows left to rebuild and move on with their lives. So many with young babies who never had the chance to meet their father. How devastating it must have been for them, one day learning the life they had envisioned and planned would never happen. In the book Brokaw shares a few of their stories and it is truly heart breaking. (Pg. 257 the stories of Jeanette Gagne Norton and Daphne Cavin...get the tissues ready.)
With the current economic climate this book would be a a real eye opener for many to realize just how bad it could really be (AND WAS!) and serve as inspiration for moving forward through tough times. This generation worked hard and persevered through the toughest of times. They grew up during the great depression with nothing. When called to action they enlisted and fought in foreign lands leaving behind loved ones and their individual future. While they fought they saw their friends and brothers killed- all the while having to continue on and stay alive. For those who made it back home they continued to work hard and administered the principles learned in the war to their every day lives. A never ending work ethic and dedication to community. We could all learn a lot from this great generation.
I definitely recommend reading this book. Do you have a WWII book recommendation?