As the years pass, and only a handful of folks who took part in World War II are left, there are fewer and fewer homages paid to that intrepid cadre of young men and women who bore the full brunt of the war. And while I have tremendous respect and admiration for the so called "greatest generation", and all that they sacrificed during those days of peril, I have always bristled at the very idea of a greatest generation. What of the sacrifices of those who fought in World War I, or perhaps even The Civil War? Ah, but of course, the Civil War was so long ago, and has problematic moral aspects that I imagine, at least in the minds of some, removes its participants from consideration as being the greatest generation. As for World War I, well, it just didn't have quite the urgency of World War II, did it? Ditto for Korea, and the poor folks who fought in Vietnam are, however unfair it would seem, only in the running for a prize for ignominious failure. So, properly tabulated those who took part in a morally unambiguous conflict of the size and sweep of World War II are at quite an advantage in the "who will be labeled the greatest generation" sweepstakes.
And yet, as I ponder the combined contribution of such political leaders as Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bush senior, I am sorely tempted to observe that since victory was sealed with the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan in 1945, the greatest generation's record is, at best, spotty. And, as fate would have it, today, another of their member, if only just, eighty four year old Alaskan, Republican Senator Ted Stevens has, shall we say, let the celebrated side down, what with his indictment for not reporting to the tax man a quarter of a million dollars of bag money he received from big oil. It's nice to know that after generations of being harangued about the debt we all owe to the greatest generation, we probably deserve a refund.