Aug 30 2015
“He got shot. He was right next to me and he got shot. I watched his plane fall into the sea.”
So my grandpa told me about the fateful day his friend died at the end of World War II when his fighter squadron went out for a bomber escort.
I can’t comprehend the sacrifice of the soldiers who fought World War II face-to-face against other human beings.
They concerned themselves wholeheartedly with their role in grand and complicated plans that were laid out to accomplish noble purposes. Our entire country sacrificed.
Because of their collective will, we have lives free from the Nazis. We were saved from so many evils.
But what have we been saved TO? Technological advancement? “Adventure”? Selfies?
It seems so strange that a generation characterized by self-sacrifice cleared the way for a generation now characterized by self-ishness. How did this happen?
In part, too few in our generation have enemies to fight against. There are plenty of them out there. But we see that solutions to the “usual” suspects of war and conflict are elusive for us as individuals.
ISIS? How am _I_ going to defeat them?
Nuclear containment? How do _I_ play a role in accomplishing it?
Global warming? The financial markets?
These are massive issues we don’t have much control over.
But what about kids who struggle with reading?
What about the elderly in nursing homes who never have anyone visit them?
There are enemies out there alright. Illiteracy. Loneliness. Poverty. They’re right here in our world.
My grandpa flew Grumann Hellcats off of carriers in the Pacific. His squadron was VF-2. They were called the Rippers. He shot down 12 planes in the war – the Navy’s 19th most-credited WWII ace. He won two silver stars. He was 23 years old when he entered the service. Most of his squadron was under 30. In total, 28 men in VF-2 were aces (i.e. shot down five or more planes) – the most of any Naval squadron in WWII.
What can we say of our peer groups’ accomplishments today?
Low expectations plague us. We’ve too little a concept of sacrifice. Truly, we do. May God help us in this! And I know he will!
Want a change? A more meaningful life? Me too. To do it, you and I have to be like our grandfathers. We have to sign-up for something worth fighting against. Only now, we don’t have to fight AGAINST other human beings. We fight FOR them and WITH them.