By Daniel J. Smiechowski
They came of age at places such as Sainte-Mere-Eglise, the Ardennes, the Normandy Beaches, North Africa, Anzio, Okinawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima and points in between. They lived through the Great Depression and came known as the Greatest Generation.What is perhaps so striking about these men is the humility and absence of pretension which drove their lives. These fathers were certainly grounded in reality being more concerned about basic everyday needs. My own Father, a Merchant Marine deck officer navigated the world during and after the war without ever puffing up his exploits. I found this humility in most men of his generation. They preferred not to talk, but remain silent and this was perhaps a hallmark of their time.
The old French Saying, “Les Americains ont fait le cinema,” which loosely translates to, Americans are pretentious does not apply to these fathers. The men who liberated Paris in 1944 and subsequently freed the world from Nazi Germany are forever remembered as heroes by the French people. On June 6thworld leaders, including President Obama will preside over the 70thanniversary of D-Day, Operation Overlord otherwise known as the Normandy Invasion.
After WWII these fathers presided over one of the most expansive US economies in a lifetime during the nineteen fifties. Despite coming home from the horrors of war, there existed some innate innocence these men passed on to their children. I never fully understood this seeming contradiction. They returned home to raise families in what appeared as an idyllic period to the children of the fifties. Many took part in the government’s GI Bill enabling for an advanced education. But as a common thread, they were very industrious and hardworking living out a life in simplicity. My own father never sported a new car or flashy clothes as was the case with most men of his generation. They were by all accounts, salt of the earth in comporting their lives.
Joe Louis, Ted Williams, Danny Kaye, Audrey Hepburn and countless others were their heroes and now the fathers of the Greatest Generation coined by Tom Brokow are our heroes. We remain grateful to all of you and with heartfelt gratitude remember you forever in being the Greatest Generation. Please contact me with your own personal stories at any time.
Be nice, do good deeds and don’t be a stranger as we at the Clairemont Times value your participation.
Daniel J Smiechowski has been a resident of Clairemont since 1967 and can be reached at email@example.com or 858 220 4613