- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A very important news event occurred the weekend of Feb. 19. Unfortunately, it did not receive the media coverage it deserved, as the rumored break-up of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and Tiger Woods’ public apology to his family apparently took up all available news space.

That weekend marked the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima. One-hundred-thirty-eight veterans of the battle, along with some 300 family members, descended upon Washington to celebrate the anniversary of this country’s most brutal fight. They hugged, laughed, cried and reminisced about a far-off little island that had a profound impact on their lives. There were families whose sons, fathers, brothers and husbands paid the ultimate price for that barren volcanic island and never returned home. For 36 days the Marines and naval forces of the United States fought in a battle that would result in a total of 27 Medals of Honor awarded to 22 Marines and five Navy corpsman.

On a daily basis, the citizens of our society question the fiber and character of our youth. We ask why our young people appear to be floundering in education and seem to have no respect for those who came before us. There is real concern for how we should close the gap and trust that this generation will carry on the hard work and legacy of the “Greatest Generation.” As a history teacher at a Fairfax, Va., high school, I would like to offer some simple suggestions that do not require legislation or even huge amounts of money. They require simple communication by our media.

I am a 47-year-old man, and in my life I have been fortunate enough to have had a grandfather and a father who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. They both quietly set an example of hard work and determination and service to one’s country. I saw a nation concentrate on a space program that ultimately put a man on the moon. The cost of this space program has been debated in terms of dollars, but I wish to have people contemplate not only the advances in technology, but the examples that were set by John Glenn, Frank Borman and Jim Lovell. These men were my generation’s heroes. They showed that with hard work and a good education the sky was the limit as to how far you could go. Today’s kids have no such heroes. Who are the men that today’s youth will idolize? Are our kids destined to only know about the basketball players who are so good that they skip any four-year academic program for quick fortune and fame?

On Feb. 19 the Washington media dropped the ball. No stories were told of sacrifice or doing the right thing under insurmountable odds. I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to our veterans and encourage all parents and teachers to do the same. Many of the members of World War II generation still living are now in retirement communities all over the United States. Young people should be encouraged to take an afternoon or morning and go visit them. Play cards, take cookies and celebrate a life well-lived. Our kids will be wealthier for the experience of visiting a true hero.


Fairfax, Va.

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