Margin Notes - Blog

The Great Leave Behind Others Who Are Greater

One of the principal themes in A Prescription for the Soul is the legacy of generations and the future they create for their kids.

I’m a Boomer, so the book focuses on that generation, but understanding its legacy requires an understanding of the work done by the generation that preceded it. The men and women who fought in World War II are striding off into history, having risen to the challenge of defeating heinous ideologies and truly terrible foes. They are justifiably described as a great generation … but Tom Brokaw and others err in calling them “the greatest.”

That assertion is not meant to diminish, in any way, what they accomplished. They deserve our deepest gratitude and our veneration. But talk to almost any man who fought in the trenches or any woman who hammered rivets into bombers, and they’ll tell you they are uncomfortable with such an exclusive superlative. By definition, there can only be one “greatest,” and they fought for a more inclusive, more deeply rooted legacy.

As an Army Brat, I’ve been around military people – including the soldiers of World War II – my entire life. To a person, they were proud of the extraordinary feats they had accomplished. However, what drove them to such heroic heights was not the quest for unmatched glory, but exactly the opposite. They fought to protect a country where their kids’ could grow up to be even greater than they, and their grandkids still greater yet.

That was their American Dream. To leave behind a nation defined not by a single greatest generation, but by a long, unending line of generations, each greater than the one before. Each determined to forge a legacy that would be recognized and cherished for the better future it offered to those who followed.

Which brings me to the essential question my book explores. What will be the legacy of Boomers? How will they become the next great American generation?

       November 16th, 2015