The greatest generation

Two images I wanted to post that came up re: Warren Bennis, yesterday.  This top one, and this one:

Both these pictures I’m getting from here, they’re credited to the National Archives, and I’m prepared to take them at their word.

These pictures, combined with this article in the NYT about the upcoming Brad Pitt movie “Fury” made me think about how the dudes that won World War II weren’t all like, mature men who knew exactly the risks and stakes of what they were doing, and were therefore the greatest heroes anyone has ever conceived of.  Most of them were children, doing what they were told, involved in an enterprise that was fucked up and disastrously executed in every way at every turn.

Don’t take my word for it, take the word of a guy who was there:

Or this guy, who was there on the other side:

Fussell (if I remember right) talks about how, once word of the concentration camps got out, and they realized what they’d been fighting, he wasn’t even sure that made it better, he says “it might’ve made it worse.”

(The point I took away from these books is that destroying any myth around them doesn’t make them less cool.  It makes them cooler still)

2 Comments on “The greatest generation”

  1. Merit La Freniere says:

    Thanks for this. It’s hard to argue that WW2 isn’t the primo example of a “good war,” and yet I’m so tired of exalting WW2 and the greatest generation. Something so immensely complicated can’t be without nuance and shades of gray. I live in the South, am a 10th generation Southerner but I’m also a cousin of Lincoln (his grandparents homesteaded in Virginia) and a pro-Union girl all the way. The Southerners romanticize their mob uprising as something heroic and try to whitewash the issue of slavery, but to my mind the Northern invasion was a justified police action. From the Northern side, that too was a “good war,” and yet still so costly in so many ways. I am sick of war and am tired that humanity hasn’t learned its lesson that war is obsolete.

  2. helytimes says:

    Thanks for writing Merit.

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