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Columnist Bob Bridge

Lee Hutchinson
Lee Hutchinson

I’m oft humbled when conversing with my elders. Fellows such as Paul Mitchell, Lee Hutchinson, Dave Jacobs and Charlie Fiddler awe me with their wit, humility and breadth of comprehension regarding this realm in which we reside.

Earlier this week, one of my more “seasoned” friends, exasperated by the seemingly endless spewing of mean-spirited commentary swirling around us, wondered aloud: ”What has happened to us? This is not the America I grew up in!”

Though his question was clearly rhetorical, I’ve pondered potential responses the past few days. Let me stipulate right up front that the aforementioned fellows are members of The Greatest Generation. I, on the other hand, am not.

They are, quite frankly, in a league of their own.

Still, I’ve been blessed to observe these men up close and personal. Their stories are inspiring; their contributions to our nation have been, in a word, “humbling” to this spoiled young whippersnapper.

Why do they and their contemporaries merit the distinction of “Greatest Generation?”

Here are a few thoughts I’ve scribbled down the past few days:

These folks endured The Great Depression. They’ve encountered hard times, faced them head on and moved our nation forward with sheer grit and determination.

Then came World War II, the deadliest conflict in human history. The stakes were frightening. America rolled the dice, going all in to preserve the liberty and democracy we cherish.

One reality that becomes clearer and clearer to me is this: Freedom is not freedom. It requires substantial service and sometimes unthinkable acts of courage and self-sacrifice.

For example, Lee risked his life each time he climbed into that bomber and flew into those “not-so-friendly” European skies. So many men and women of that “Greatest Generation” cast aside their personal ambitions, not to mention their well-being, to secure our safety then and moving forward.

When victory was achieved and a semblance of peace restored, they returned home to exhibit an exemplary work ethic in the painstaking process of building the planet’s most prosperous and admired nation.

Unfortunately, too many of us who have followed refuse to recognize and appreciate the efforts exerted on our behalf. We fail to value the multitude of gifts bestowed upon us. Alas, we have become damn near insatiable, craving more and more each day.

We demand additional benefits while whining over each new tax proposal. If we can’t afford what we think we need, we simply pass the costs on to future generations.

Too harsh?

Do you know how many zeroes are required to type out $20 trillion?

So, ”What has happened to us?”

I’ll leave that response to those with brighter bulbs than mine.

Today, I’d just like to thank my elders for their extraordinary gifts and apologize both to them and my great-nieces and great-nephews for “dropping the ball.”

Perhaps it is not too late to shed our spoiled, materialistic ways and commit to restoring the acts of unselfishness and self-sacrifice that made America so extraordinary.

God knows my generation has been blessed beyond measure. It is far past time to start returning the favors.

Contact Columnist Bob Bridge at (812) 276-9646 or

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Well said, Bob. Well said.

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