Dr. Robert Miller thinks Tom Brokaw was a generation off.
Our success was preordained by the courageous, self-sufficient and very hard-working generations that preceded and nurtured us. (Shutterstock.com)Tom Brokaw's best-selling book The Greatest Generation is worth reading. As a member of that generation, which is rapidly dying off, I am flattered by his assumption, but I don't agree with it.
Yes, my generation, the one born between the world wars, did some remarkable things. We survived growing up during a crushing, decade-long economic depression, which was made even more difficult by environmental disasters (the Dust Bowl) and epidemics of now-controlled diseases such as poliomyelitis. Sure, we took on two powerful, effective and aggressive military states-Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan-and whipped them with nonprofessional military forces. Then, educated via the GI Bill, we boldly entered the postwar era, launching our country to its present eminence.
But there was a reason we could do all that effectively. We were brought up by an even greater generation-the generation of our parents and grandparents.
It was those generations, unprotected by any guarantees or by the promises of a welfare state, who pioneered the plains while living in sod homes, who tamed America's wilderness to make a living, and who flocked here in steerage to survive in dismal city slums and slave in sweatshops, mines and factories. They were the greatest generation.
My generation was able to survive the Great Depression without causing a civic revolt or a crime wave because of the values instilled in us by our parents and our grandparents-mostly poor and uneducated people. These were the values of respect, hard work, civility and a willingness to live by society's rules. Those of us fortunate enough to survive World War II unharmed did so for the same reasons, and we have everlasting respect and compassion for those who did not.
So, superficially, it may appear that Brokaw's flattering contention is correct, but if we are completely honest, we must confess that our success was preordained by the courageous, self-sufficient and very hard-working generations that preceded and nurtured us.
Dr. Robert Miller is an author, cartoonist and speaker from Thousand Oaks, California. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his website at www.robertmmiller.com.