Lest we forget – America the great

To paraphrase an observation ,”One generation will build it, the second generation will enjoy what was built and the third generation will waste it”.
Three generations ago our grandfathers laid down their tools, or school books, or plows and walked into a military recruitment center and went to war.  College football players were sworn into military service at half time of the Cotton Bowl.  Young men walked off the farm, lied abut their age, loaded a bus and headed to boot camp.  In some parts of America men volunteered, were deemed not qualified for military service, returned to their homes and took their own lives.  Such was the blind and wonderful patriotic zeal of America in the early 1940s.  No better example of the American spirit than what we witnessed during the mobilization of the military at the beginning of World War II.  Many of these brave American warriors left but never returned.
Last week we stood in reverence to the men and women that have given their lives so that we can live in the country that our forefathers had designed.  Even though several national leaders had problems understanding what Memorial Day means to the country, the general population stood in appreciation to our fallen military.  Following Memorial Day, America observed the landing of troops in continental Europe during Word War II which has become known as D-Day.  Movies such as “The Longest Day” and “Saving Private Ryan” captured the action but one image provides a haunting image of the young men that landed on the beaches of France.  It was not a photo of the carnage on the beaches, the dead bodies, the broken equipment, the confusion and the heroism.  Instead it was an amazingly clear photo of a landing craft filled with soldiers that would be shortly landing.  The men in the boat were not old grizzled fighters with stubble on their faces and who looked like men that had just come from a bar fight and were ready to take on the Germans.  Instead the men in the boat were very young men; some looked like they had not even started shaving.  One in the middle of the boat was a man whose eyes were full of expression as if to embrace the excitement of the day.  Fright was not in their faces; only a cool determination to do what they had trained for. I often wonder how many of these did not make it off the beach. 
In 2003, Colin Powell was attending an economic summit in Switzerland.  The former Arch Bishop of Canterbury asked the question about America using too much military force instead of diplomacy to solve problems.  Powell affirmed that soft power is better than hard, military, power but went on to say that hard power has been necessary.  He went on to explain America’s desire to rule conquered land. 
“The United States believes strongly in what you call soft power, the value of democracy, the value of the free economic system, the value of making sure that each citizen is free and free to pursue their own God-given ambitions and to use the talents that they were given by God. And that is what we say to the rest of the world. That is why we participated in establishing a community of democracy within the Western Hemisphere. It’s why we participate in all of these great international organizations.
There is nothing in American experience or in American political life or in our culture that suggests we want to use hard power. But what we have found over the decades is that unless you do have hard power — and here I think you’re referring to military power — then sometimes you are faced with situations that you can’t deal with.
I mean, it was not soft power that freed Europe. It was hard power. And what followed immediately after hard power? Did the United States ask for dominion over a single nation in Europe? No. Soft power came in the Marshall Plan. Soft power came with American GIs who put their weapons down once the war was over and helped all those nations rebuild. We did the same thing in Japan.
So our record of living our values and letting our values be an inspiration to others I think is clear. And I don’t think I have anything to be ashamed of or apologize for with respect to what America has done for the world.
We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years and we’ve done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in, and otherwise we have returned home to seek our own, you know, to seek our own lives in peace, to live our own lives in peace. But there comes a time when soft power or talking with evil will not work where, unfortunately, hard power is the only thing that works.”
Let us hope that the third generation since World War II will not ruin what was built before them.  Instead let’s hope that our newest generations will embrace what came before them to allow them to live in such a great nation.
God Bless America, God Save Ukraine, Pray for Israel.

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Thomas FieldsThomas “Tuffy” Fields is an author and regular contributor to The Gazette. He can …

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