The other day I was binge watching one of my favorites movies/shows, The Band of Brothers (BoB). I love this series for so many reasons. I love the history, the story, WWII history, the cinematography, the real-life heroes portrayed, the relationships built, the character of the men, the fact that the actor who plays Maj. Winters looks just like my grandpa did when he was in the Army 🙂
As I was watching, as I always do, I began welling up with emotions and I had a thought. There are many reasons I have such respect and love for the military and for the men (and women) who come out of the military… especially at this time in our world. The men portrayed in BoB were a breed of men that truly are a diamond in the rough if you look at today’s younger generations. They stood for something that has been lost in so many today. They certainly didn’t get it right all the time, but there’s a lot they did.
We live in a world today where we are so afraid to voice even an opinion because heaven forbid someone disagrees with us. Heaven forbid we offend someone. We don’t know how to agree to disagree. By today’s logic, if I disagree with someone then it means I hate them. I see people who only know how to make excuses; they don’t know how to own their mistakes (and then learn from them). I see a generation of kids that have to have participation ribbons and everyone gets a trophy even if you didn’t win. People don’t know what a work ethic is. Entitlement and overly sensitive are synonymous with too many people in our society.
Loyalty is a bandwagon term. It’s something that people only stick by when it’s convenient (which is in fact the opposite of the definition of the word). We are obsessed with having the best, greatest, biggest, newest, next thing. At the age of 25, everyone wants to be making $60,000+ a year with a new car and the shiny apartment with vaulted ceilings and granite countertops. The word struggle is not in people’s vocabulary because so often we want to the easy way out.
I’ve seen people who have lived relatively “easy” or strife-free lives when suddenly a bomb drops and they don’t know how to function because they’ve never had to go through struggle. A friend of mine posted a blog article the other day talking about pressing into pain. She was being vulnerable about her current season of life that finds her in pain. Pain is an interesting thing. We don’t like it. We try to run from it, avoid it, protect ourselves and others from it. But when I look at people that I admire, people who uphold the values and character of honor, most of them have gone through pain. They’ve experienced true struggle and/or challenges in life.
Granted not everyone comes out of struggles the same. You can choose to react to things or respond. Reacting fosters poor behavior and negative coping mechanisms because it stems from pure emotion. Responding fosters a way of living that can be respected because it stems from character. You still face emotion but you work through it and deal with your circumstances from your character.
Call me a romantic. Call me an old soul. Call me traditional or a renaissance gal but I long for a generation who chooses to face struggle and faces it by responding. I know that parents want to protect their children, that we want to protect our families and loved ones so nothing bad ever happens to them and they never have to experience pain. But pain produces character. When you lift weights, you are causing your body pain and breaking down your muscles but you come out stronger.
Instead of catering to, pampering, and trying to make thing convenient for our young people, let’s give them the tools and teach them the skills to make it through their struggles. Support them, yes. Encourage them, absolutely. But I guess my sappy heart longs to see young people made up of the same kind of character as the young men who were serving in WWII. After all, most of those “men” were 18, 19, 20 years old- not even old enough to buy a beer or a gun. But there they were, doing what needed to be done. They got it done. They didn’t make excuses.
A documentary was made to pair with the Band of Brothers series called We Stand Alone Together. In the documentary, they interview the actual men who served in Easy Company as part of the 101st Airborne Infantry with the 506. At one point in the interview, one of the guys everyone called Popeye recounts a story of when a German soldier threw a grenade into the trench that he and some of his comrades were in while they were moving to take one of the Germans’ machine gun. The following was Maj. Winters’ paralleling response to the the event:
“He’s behind enemy lines on D-Day. Does he holler ‘Help!’ No. He hollers, ‘I’m sorry Lieutenant! I’m sorry, I goofed.’ … It’s beautiful when you think of a guy who’s that dedicated to his company, to his buddies that he apologizes for getting hit. But that’s the kind of guy he was. That’s the kind each one of them was. They were all the same. I look upon them, each man with great respect. Respect I can’t describe. Each man proved himself, that he could do the job.” – Maj. Dick Winters
Sometimes I sit and I think about how much we have advanced in the last 70 years. The technology. The medicine. The engineering. The education. And while I certainly love and appreciate all the advantages that we have been blessed with, sometimes I think, “But at what price?” There are times that I feel like the cost for us to have technology and convenience has been our character and our contentment because we are never satisfied and you just don’t see the over-all attitude that could once be found.
Ah. I’m an old, sentimental soul. I know that. But I think that for all the advancing we’ve done in our society, in technology, in supposed communication (though kids today don’t know how to have a normal face to face conversation) – there are some #throwback things that I long to see return and this is one of them. Character. Character born from struggle and challenge and tension. Strength that comes from people depending on each other and building each other up.
There are so many things that I love and respect about the military; so many things it teaches you about yourself, about life, about how to truly serve others. Anyways-enough of my ramblings. Just some thoughts I had about a lost generation that I think has a whole heck of a lot to teach our younger generations. We live in a great and exciting time where success and advantage have never been more ascertainable. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the best life for yourself and for your loved ones. But maybe the best life for us isn’t the life we think it is. Sometimes providing means doing what you gotta do, blue collar, white collar, purple collar for all I care. Or it’s choosing not to take the second job and live a simpler life so you can enjoy the relationships around you. True success is the measure of a man’s character not his materials.