A new Greatest Generation

The past few weeks I’ve seen not one, not two, but three young men with missing limbs.  One had lost an arm, one a leg, and the most recent, both legs.  Maybe I’m wrong, but their relatively close cropped hair signified that they were military.

The DC area has Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital.  Inside those walls and in other military facilites are perhaps hundreds of returning servicemen and servicewomen who’ve come back from war in a different physical conditon than what they were when they left.

I’ve read where the medical breakthroughs that have happened over the years have resulted in a much lower rate of KIAs that we’ve had in previous wars.  That’s absolutely great.

But it misses something major.  Many of those that are saved nevertheless suffered so grevious injuries that they’re permanently scarred, disfigured, or handicapped.  I’ve heard – I can’t remember where that it may number in the tens of thousands.  Like the young men I now see.

Much has been made of the “Greatest Generation”, the World War II generation of GI Joe’s who went to war to fight fascism and then came home to build this country and to take the lead on civil rights and other great things.  As a son of a mon and a dad who were most definitely part of that generation, I can say that I definitely deserve that title.

But I’m wondering now if there is a new generation of greats.  Or those who have answered they country’s call to serve.

Whenever the Washington Post features their Faces of the Dead (I think that’s what they call it), I make sure I take a look at each picture and read each profile.  I’ll hear stories of a kid somewhere who joined the military after 9/11.  Of how they dedicate their lives for their country.  And sometimes sacrifice that life.

This isn’t a pro-Iraq war statement.  I was against it before it started.

Often one generation disparages the next as being soft and pampered.  I’ll never do that.  Instead, I see a new Greatest Generation.  And I’ll always be grateful.


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