Retirement - The Greatest Generation- A Personal Point of View
by John Armstrong
Below are some thought's I have on the Greatest Generation; those in the twilight of their retirement years.
Former coworkers call him Pap, but I call him Chuck and he’s 89 years young. Chuck is my father-in-law and my hero.
He’s also a W.W. II veteran who joined the United State Marine Corps at the ripe old age of 18 to fight against Japanese Imperialism. At the time W.W. II started, Chuck was a student and member of the Corps at Texas A&M University. It wasn’t too long after the start of the war, Chuck returned home to Texarkana, TX to work for the Cotton Belt Railroad since he was only 17 at the time.
On his 18th birthday he joined the Marine Corp, but could have easily avoided the service since he worked for a critical component of the war effort – the railroad.
He took his basic training at USMRD San Diego and soon after found himself on the island of Iwo Jima and later in Nagasaki after Japan’s surrender that came as a result of the United States dropping an atomic bomb on that city.
As a generation, we lost 416,000 young men and women fighting a war the United States wanted to avoid. As a nation, we lost an entire generation of men and women who had much to offer this country in terms of potential; whether teachers, doctors, engineers, farmers to mention just a few. Over 5,000 of those young U.S. servicemen were killed at Iwo Jima in the Pacific theater. About 19,000 Japanese soldiers lost their lives in that battle, as well.
At the time Chuck entered the Marine Corps he was in the prime of his life and had an athletic build. He returned home unscathed for the most part despite suffering hearing loss that came about from participating combat.
Now, he is a frail man who suffers the ravages of age on the body and from rheumatoid arthritis. Both have taken their toll on his body. His wife of nearly 60 years has long departed this life and he patiently waits for his time to meet his Maker and be with his wife once again. Despite this, he never complains about anything, has a positive attitude and continues to be active even though he now lives in a managed care facility.
For those of us who were descendants of the Greatest Generation, we owe that generation a huge amount of gratitude for what they gave up to preserve our way of life as we know it today. It was the likes of Kill Roy and Rosie the Riveter who contributed to the war effort; whether they were on the battle field or building ships, airplanes, guns or bombs.
All of them pulled together for the common good of this nation. It was a time of America’s greatest hour. They all realized loose lips sank ships and political discourse could be used against us in the enemy’s propaganda.
Today, we are losing about a 2,000 of these veterans each day and this number will steadily increase as they get older. As a nation, we need to honor them even more than ever. We need to pull together and fight the good fight when needed and preserve the way of life we have always known. That way of life is now being threatened by those offshore and from within. Many old veterans feel we are at the precipice and about to fall into an abyss where we will never emerge again as a united nation.
I feel the same thing and sense we have squandered what the Greatest Generation has handed us on a platter plated with their lives.
I thank Chuck for his service, being a good husband to his wife, a good father to his children and just being a good person who worked hard for his family doing an honest day's work. It's my wish for him when his time comes to meet our Maker, he goes with his boots on. Semper Fi Chuck!!!