Last week when I asked my 91 year old friend Bud if I could
interview him about how he narrowly escaped drowning when his
ship sank in WWII, he responded “I’ve been waiting 70 years for
someone to ask”.
He enlisted to go to war when he was a teenager. When I asked how many of his buddies
joined him, he
replied, “All of them. That’s what everyone did back then”.
That sense of duty is one of many reasons Tom Brokaw labeled
them as “The Greatest Generation”. They got just
about everything right
and were the best we’ve ever been.
They believed in respect for authority figures. When a young man
wanted to propose, he first asked the girl’s father for
permission. When they entered the work force, they didn’t call
their boss by their first name. (Watch reruns of the “I Love
Lucy” show and notice how Lucille Ball always called her boss “Mr. Mooney”).
They were loyal and believed in one job and one marriage for a
They dressed up to go to work, to church (called their “Sunday
best”), and everywhere else. Even men in line at soup kitchens
wore suits, were clean shaven, and combed their hair and
shined their shoes.
Kids were taught that children should be seen and not heard, and
shouldn't interrupt adults when they’re talking. (As opposed to
Generation Y, which has grown up with their parents’ lives
revolving around theirs). When kids said something inappropriate,
they got their mouths washed out with soap.
Adults spoke like ladies and gentlemen. Not only did people not
curse in public, but they didn’t use words like “pregnant” in
public. When a lady needed to go to the restroom, she used a
euphemism like “Excuse me while I go powder my nose”. (As
opposed to Generation
X, which will tell you exactly what they’re going in the bathroom to
Because they saw 25% unemployment during the Great Depression,
they were financially responsible and incredibly disciplined.
They learned delayed gratification and saved up until
they could afford to buy things.
They knew their neighbors. “Face time” for them was actually
visiting people, looking them in the eyes, and shaking their
Men opened doors for women, and people said things like “Thank
Sadly, they’re mostly retired now. But if you're fortunate
enough to have members of this generation still working for you,
hang on to them for dear life because God doesn’t make them like