Filling the generation gap on Veterans Day |

Filling the generation gap on Veterans Day

I have never seen a draft card. I do not know anyone who holds a war bond. I don’t know what it is like to rally behind a cause for my country. I have never lived through a war.

This is the generation gap. This is the thing that separates my generation from my parents’ generation and from their parents’ generation. They have been through the struggles, the hardships, the pain and the losses of a great American war.

I have not.

They are forever changed as a result of living through war. I am not changed. This is what makes us different.

In recent days this difference became quite apparent to me because yesterday, we all had the day off from school or work for Veterans Day. What does Veterans Day mean to you? I discovered that this national holiday means very different things to different people.

For a day, the generation gap greatly widened. For my generation, the meaning of Veterans Day has almost been completely lost. I was appalled to hear one of my classmates posing the question, “What is Veterans Day, anyway?”

To most of my peers Veterans Day means no school. Veterans Day means a three-day weekend. Veterans Day means vacation, free time and fun. How could we have let the real meaning of such an important day slip through the cracks? Well, it wasn’t made too difficult for us. For one thing, I couldn’t even tell you when Veterans Day actually falls. This day of remembrance is always “observed” on a Monday so that we can all have a three-day weekend.

More important though, the people of my generation just don’t understand war and its ramifications. It is hard for us to remember and honor something that we weren’t alive to witness.

My parents lived through the Vietnam War. Their classmates were drafted and sent off to war. People that lived in their neighborhood were drafted and sent off to war. Their friends and members of their families were drafted and sent off to war. Some of them came back changed forever, and some of them didn’t even come back at all.

On Veterans Day my parents can bow their heads, close their eyes, and remember all of these people. They can honor and respect these people and the great deeds that they did for America.

My grandparents can bow their heads and remember ousting Hitler and

Nazi Germany, dropping the atomic bomb, and coming out the most powerful nation in the world. They can remember the people who fought and the people who died in this fight.

War changes a nation and all of the people in it. My parents and grandparents have thus been changed.

Paying due respect to our veterans is a task that is more difficult for

my generation and myself than it is for generations before us. When I bow my head to think about all of the people who have fought for America, I’m hit with an almost blank slate.

It is for this reason that I pose a request to my readers. If you lived through a war and can remember what it was like, share your experiences. Tell your children or other people who haven’t had your experiences what it was like.

Help my generation to see the true implications of war. Nothing can make a person richer than experience. Share with us the experiences that we have not had. Help us to give our veterans the honor and respect that they truly deserve.

Lorin Kline is a student at Whittell High School.

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