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What makes the WW2 Generation great?


13 replies to this topic

#1
Fozzie

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Don't want to take over the Bush thread, but it was brought up there.

IMO, they didn't really do much that's so great. They were forced into the war (11.5 million drafted versus 6.3 million volunteers, despite the narrative). Yes, as a whole they reacted pretty well to it, but it still wasn't the romanticized version. And they gave birth to the Boomers, which speaks poorly to their ability to communicate any of the virtues that they supposedly had.
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#2
El Chalupacabra

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This is my first and last post in this thread because honestly, if you already have that mindset, I doubt I am capable of changing your mind, anyway.  You are entitled to your opinion, but I really don't have a desire to debate you on this.  I just don't care that much to, and I figure any back and forth you and I may have in this thread will be a waste of time for both of us. 

 

Anyway, I'll answer your question with a few questions.  If they don't move you to reconsider your opinion, then maybe reading the Greatest Generation by Brokaw (if you haven't already, I imagine you might have as you seem well read) might at least provide a few points of contemplation for you.  

 

So, in what way are Boomers, Xers, Millennials, or Gen Zers superior to the WW2 generation, in terms of character, accomplishments, and overall handling of every day life better?  I think boomers  weren't better than the WW2 generation, but other than being the first self-centered generation, not a whole lot to complain about, as far as I can see.  Certainly better than those who came after. Honestly, what have Gen X, millennials and especially Gen Z done that is worthy of praise? 

 

WW2 was no big deal?  Hardly.  As I see it, WW2 alone is enough to consider the WW2 generation one of the greatest.  This was the last war the US fought in that literally could have ended the US as we knew it, and could have changed how our nation is shaped today.  There really was an urgency with this war that later wars (as far as US interests are concerned) just didn't have.  And IMHO it really was a good VS evil war in a way wars that came after were not (again from a US foreign policy and interests perspective).  Had the US stayed neutral, or worse, lost, at the very least the US wouldn't have enjoyed the prosperity we had since WW2, and it is not out of the realm of possibility the US could have become a vassal of Germany.   I know one can mealy mouth it and say WW2 was thrust upon that generation, which is, in part, true, but the point is when WW2 was thrust upon them, they stood up.  It's not how the circumstances landed in their lap, it's what they did afterward that makes them great. 

 

Civil rights and equality?  No.  That wasn't JUST the boomers, even if they lived during the time legislation started being passed.  Boomers may have been the young college students at the time protesting, but the people in power making the actual changes were largely from the WW2 generation.  MLK was part of the silent generation, which came of age during WW2.  Presidents like Kennedy, Johnson, and Carter that championed equality were of the WW2 generation (either GI  or silent generations).

 

Technology?  All technology we have today stems directly from advancements from the WW2 era.  Computers, space travel, mass communication, modern conveniences, all have their roots from the WW2 era, and most of those who invented all that are from the WW2 era.  Today's technology is incredible, but one has to credit the WW2 generation for getting the ball rolling there.

 

Facebook and social media?  No the WW2 generation obviously didn't develop that, but despite the convenience of mass communication, social media has a lot of negatives, mainly demonstrated by younger generations like millennials and Gen Z airing their dirty laundry or boasting accomplishments for public consumption. How does that better society?

 

I could go on, but why bother?  

 

If none of that convinces you otherwise, then I have to say that even if the WW2 generations' accomplishments don't impress you, then following generations are less impressive, still making the WW2 generation better by default.  


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#3
Tex

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My grandmother told me that there was a time when the public perception was that we weren’t gonna win WW2. Everyone was on edge and constantly worried about the boys who were deployed. It’s not like the Wars since, where the worst is that we don’t pacify Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, and so on it was a fear that we would fall under the Nazi regime.

Two of my four grandfathers survived (Two were steps) by the skin of their teeth. I often think of how hard that must have been for a bunch of teenaged/early 20s kids trying to survive in that madness.

They basically created the world we live in today and yes, the Greatest Generation is a big deal. I can only assume that anyone who thinks otherwise is either misinformed, in denial, or flat out stupid. The world we have today would simply not exist without the tremendous sacrifices of these outstanding Americans.
  • El Chalupacabra +1 this

#4
monkeygirl

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'they gave birth to the Boomers, which speaks poorly to their ability to communicate any of the virtues that they supposedly had.'

 

HAY GAT DAMMIT


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#5
Tex

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somebody wants a check with their birthday card.

Give me your address. I’ve got plenty of money.

#6
Metropolis

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When was that term coined? I swear I've only heard it used the last two three years or so.

#7
Poe Dameron

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When was that term coined? I swear I've only heard it used the last two three years or so.

"Greatest Generation"?  Tom Brokaw wrote a book with that title about 20 years ago.  I don't think he coined it, but he certainly popularized it.


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#8
Destiny Skywalker

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I can't do much better than what Chalup said.

I fully admit that my grandparents on my dad's side were my role models. They weren't perfect, but I honestly give them more credit than my parents even for instilling most of my morals and priorities. My grand parents were super active in civil service and their communities. Grandpa was the town mayor (as his side job) and a Master Mason, Grandma was state President of P.E.O. and a member of Order of Eastern Star, as well as playing piano and organ for her church and all the local schools concerts and plays. They were huge community organizers, and as I grew up, they supported me through Girl Scouts, choir, and even celebrating my joining a sorority in college. I wouldn't say my impact is as big as theirs was, and it may never be. But I think their generation was one of the last ones that believed strongly in giving back to others. People are too busy now. I see it with any activity I sign my kids up for, there is always a lack of volunteer support. Organizations like the Elks and VFW are dying. Scouting is on the decline. No one cares about giving back, my own generation included. Did they spoil the Baby Boomers? Yeah, probably. They were also just probably glad they survived WW2. That was kind of a crazy time in the US. It was a big leap forward for families and mass production. A lot of technological breakthroughs, sort of like how the Internet changed the world in the 90s and 2000s.
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#9
Fozzie

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For one, I think that a definition is required. The general consensus on the years for the "greatest generation" is 1910-1924. So that actually removes most of the leadership of WW2, MLK, RFK, and Johnson. JFK fits, so does Nixon.

Full list of presidents from that generation: Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush. Of that, I would say you have half as good presidents, half as bad to neutral. I realize that this isn't the sole standard, but this is the generation that is called the Greatest Generation, and declared to be the greatest generation produced by any society.

#10
Iceheart

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So, in what way are Boomers, Xers, Millennials, or Gen Zers superior to the WW2 generation, in terms of character, accomplishments, and overall handling of every day life better?  I think boomers  weren't better than the WW2 generation, but other than being the first self-centered generation, not a whole lot to complain about, as far as I can see.

 

 

Uh, you mean other than destroying the planet and the economy in the name of capitalism, right?

 

My problem is this whole pitting the generations against each other. Determining which one is "superior." Calling them the "Greatest Generation" to begin with, as if any other generation will never be able to live up under any circumstances, and then pointing to them whenever a Millennial or GenZ doesn't live up to whatever expectations they're facing at the time (i.e. not spending enough money to line corporate pockets)? Yes, that's the way to encourage a generation that seems "lost," make them resent ALL of their elders! You can respect what a generation did without weaponizing that respect against others. And I don't really see it from the Greatest Generation themselves... they're usually a little more lenient because they remember the Great Depression. It's the Boomers from my experience, who had every leg up they could get when they were young, who like to pit their parents against their children. I'd also like to point out that no other generation has had to step up they way they did since (and may none ever have to again) - and a lot because of what the Greatest Generation did in WWII. But this means that the comparison is unfairly weighted.

 

And I'm afraid of rose-tinting any period of history. All those Rosie the Riveters lost their jobs when the men came home. The Greatest Generation was responsible for all the sexism of the 50's and 60's. I'm not saying this doesn't mean they didn't step up during the war, I'm just saying don't ignore the bad stuff to make a point out of the good stuff. Also, this dynamic definitely helps with all that charitable giving Destiny mentioned. When a man can buy a home and support a homemaker wife and a few kids on a single salary, that wife has a lot more time to jump into the church's Charitable Aid Society and dig into her kids's scout troops than today's working mother who has to do everything her Greatest Generation counterpart did, on top of a 40 hour workweek outside of the home.

 

I also notice that the people in this thread defending the Greatest Generation mythology have said, either here or in other threads recently, that they have really exceptional relationships with their Greatest Gen grandparents. I am so happy and so jealous of you guys. My grandpa might have done heroic things in the Pacific Theater, and he may have been a very prominent and well-loved and respected member of his community, but when he came home he was a vile, detestable person. He was an abusive husband, an abusive father, a cold, unloving and judgmental grandfather, and speaking of charitable giving, he gave all his money to the church he belonged to, for the two-pronged reason of showing off for God (not kidding, he thought it would "earn him rewards in heaven") and to keep it from going to his own kids as an inheritance. So, not everyone has that same cuddly viewpoint, either.


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#11
Odine

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People romanticise everything about the WW2 generation, because they lived through some really gnarly ****. And gave birth to the modern world for better (and worse might i add.) Some of my grandparents of that generation were very relatable. Others not so. I will always respect what my grandfathers did in the war, regardless of the side they were on, (my grandfather was a Norwegian Alpine Ski soldier, but we don't know which side as Norway was split Allied and some Axis) and i will always respect my grandmother for surviving in occupied Holland when she was a girl. But that doesn't mean i can't recognise the faults and flaws in that generation too. As for whether today's generations could stand up to a crisis like ww2... Well Its entirely possible... People are very sedentary these days, and self interested, but speculation is rather meaningless since we haven't been challenged like they were back then. So how is any comparison fair?
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#12
Tex

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Personally I think the Greatest Generation term largely has to do with Boomer guilt. They were the generation that profited the most off of the labors of their parents. I certainly don’t think Gen Xers or Millenials should feel slighted by the term. The GG simply had it rough and made the best of a bad situation, one that subsequent generations never had to deal with.

And Ice you’re not the only one with a ****ty grandparent. Everyone has at least one. I’ve had three.

#13
Iceheart

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Honestly, it's not even the term that bothers me, it's sentiments like these:

 

Compared to the WW2 generation, we Gen X'ers and Millennials are childish.  

 

 

(Chalup, I SWEAR I'm not out to get you here, you just happen to provide the most convenient example)

 

The WWII generation made it possible that their descendants wouldn't have to deal with the **** they did. The post-war boom made it possible for these men to go right from service into a career (no need for a college degree if you don't need/want it!), purchase a home, marry, raise a family, provide very well for that family, and enjoy a retirement. They got off to a rocky af start, but after that they did all kinds of okay. Their children wanted for very little, and were able to make social strides like Civil Rights and Women's Rights. Their younger children and grandchildren were the 80's "Me" generation, who enjoyed the effects of Reganomics, and were able to create and innovate. For Gen X, the 90's were great, no real need to do anything other than keep on keeping on, and they were too busy watching their savings and homes disappear in 2008 for anything else. Millennials are too busy trying to fulfill the base requirements of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to do anything of sweeping importance right now, beyond "killing" Boomer industries because we have no money to support them. The way Gen Z is currently going I can see them being the generation most like the Greatest Gen since the Greatest Gen, but when they step up right now they get immediately knocked down (I almost said "shot down," but, uh... too soon) for being Tide Pod Munchers by their grandparents's generation, which is the one who currently holds all the power.

 

So, Grandma and Grandpa made life easy for their kids, their kids and older grandkids reaped the rewards of this and didn't bother maintaining it, the younger grandkids and great-grandkids are now buried under the mess their parents made... but Gen X and Millennials are "childish" all because their grandparents made their parents's lives easier than their own were, and their parents took too much advantage of this while raising their own children to expect that they'll be able to take advantage, too.

 

Yeah, I know, I'm just a whiny, entitled Millennial who wants everything handed to me... and this entitlement is the direct result of the aftermath of WWII. So, maybe don't compare generations with different circumstances at play in their successes or failures like it's apples to apples?

 

And I know I'm not the only one with a ****ty grandparent (I also have 3), but I disagree that everyone has at least one. My story is pretty rare in my social circles.


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#14
Ms. Spam

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HIstorically speaking, the world was changed by World War II. It doesn't have to be about the people but the times. They were striving towards something during a time when things were really happening. The advent of nuclear technology. New countries were drawn up out of the remains of the War. Colonization changed to a race for better technology. Industrialization and women getting more involved in things not related to the home front. Maybe we should state the best of the 1900s generations. 





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