Recently my mom celebrated her100th birthday. She is loved and admired by many, but especially her family. Often I remark about her being part of the greatest generation. So, I did some research on why this generation is so called. It seems Tom Brokaw, an NBC journalist, wrote a book entitled, The Greatest Generation (published in 1998), highlighting why he thought they were the greatest generation this society has ever produced. He mentioned how they had grown up during the Great Depression and went on to fight in World War II. It was the combined efforts of those who left home to fight the war and those who contributed to the war effort at home which molded the characteristics we read below.
- Personal Responsibility: The harsh reality of the Great Depression forced many to a higher standard of personal responsibility, even as children.
- Humility: The Great Depression fostered modesty and humility in many of those who lived through scarcity.
- Work Ethic: Hard work enabled survival during both the depression and the war. Many jobs at the time were physically demanding, with long hours.
- Frugality: Saving every penny and every scrap helped families survive through times of shortage. “Use it up, fix it up, make it do, or do without” was a motto of their time.
- Commitment: One job or one marriage often lasted an entire lifetime.
- Integrity: People valued honesty and trustworthiness, values fostered by the need to rely on one another.
- Self-Sacrifice: Millions sacrificed to defend their country or support the war effort from home.
In reading over this list, I had in mind my mother and my mother in law (both widows), I can say it truly describes them. Not only them, but my father and my father in law, as well. While we still are reaping the blessings of the presence of my mother and mother in law, the impact of their husband’s legacy continues to be a guiding force in their family’s lives.