I recently visited Washington DC. While there, I spent a lot of time at the World War II Memorial. It was very powerful to be there the day before the Pearl Harbor anniversary (especially when I was there basically alone because apparently 40 degrees and rainy is too cold for non-Minnesotans to wander around outside).
My grandpa served in World War II. He lied about his age to join the Navy at age 17. As I stood at the Memorial, I thought about what it took for a 17 year old kid from Minneapolis to volunteer to go to war. Standing there at the Memorial, seeing the stars that symbolize all of the lives lost, I understood more than ever why we refer to them as “The Greatest Generation.” That level of service to what was right and just, in the face of so many things to fear, was truly remarkable.
My grandpa’s life was altered by war in multiple ways and he was eventually awarded a Purple Heart due to the injuries and disabilities he suffered. He was a very patriotic man who was especially proud of his grandchildren. He passed away several years ago and I wonder what he would think about our country in 2016.
Thinking about World War II, I also thought about the hate-fueled rhetoric of our next President and it made me incredibly sad. My grandpa and so many others fought for ideals bigger than themselves, even when there was so much to fear. I hope that we can do the same.