- - Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Greatest Generation actually fought and defeated fascism 75 years ago. It wasn’t Antifa in their black ninja costumes. It was real men and women who fought — and many died — for the freedoms we hold dear today.

Seventy-nine years ago this week, the United States entered World War II after 2,403 Americans died at Pearl Harbor. One of them was Walter Robert Boviall, who was killed in action on Dec. 7, 1941. He served on the USS Arizona, and that is believed to be his final resting place.

Boviall was born 102 years ago in the same small town where I grew up — Delavan, Wisconsin. He was the son of Robert and Leanna Jones. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II in Milwaukee County, where Tonette and I raised our two sons.

Boviall was stationed at Pearl Harbor. He had the rank of petty officer second class and was an aviation machinist’s mate second class.

Walter Robert Boviall is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii. In January, Tonette, Matt, Alex and I had a chance to pay our respects to Boviall at the cemetery and at the Pearl Harbor Memorial over the top of the USS Arizona. We will never forget him or the others who died that day for our country 79 years ago.

A field of 4,000 sculptured gold stars on the Freedom Wall at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., commemorates the more than 400,000 men and women who gave their lives from the attack on Pearl Harbor through the end of the war. During that time, a blue star in the window meant that a family member was in the service. A gold star sadly was a sign of the ultimate sacrifice made by that family member for his or her country.

Beyond the honored dead, many other brave men and women fought during the Second World War. My great-uncle Warren Fitch was one of them. He fought in the U.S. Army and received a Purple Heart.

Uncle Warren and others in the Greatest Generation fought fascism, won the war, and then came back and built our country into the power that it is today. Most, like Uncle Warren, did not brag about it or often even talk about it. They just did it.

In contrast, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told her Twitter followers last year that “an entire generation, which is now becoming one of the largest electorates in America, came of age and never saw American prosperity.” Talk about being out-of-touch with reality.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is dead wrong. The opposite is true. Prior to coronavirus, no generation in human history has ever experienced a world with more prosperity, more freedom, more leisure time, more access to information, higher literacy rates, better life expectancy, lower child mortality, less poverty, less disease, less hunger and less violent crime than her generation. She should thank the members of the Greatest Generation for her good fortune.

America again led the efforts to advance freedom and prosperity during the Cold War. That helped bring the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe. Time and time again, American patriots have proven that protecting freedoms endowed by our Creator for individuals is superior to ceding unrestrained power over our lives to the government.

These battles continue today — not just with foreign adversaries — but with domestic foes as well. More than just resist, we must persist in our fight to protect freedom.

Failure to protect our liberties will lead our beloved country down the wrong path. Venezuela and Cuba offer modern-day examples of the failures of socialism. A year ago, 9 out of 10 Venezuelans lived in poverty in a country that was once one of the richest in the hemisphere. In Cuba, the minimum wage is $17. But that is not per hour, or even per day or week. The minimum wage in Cuba is about $17 per month. This reality for those living under socialism is a warning of what a less-free America could become in the future. Must never become a socialist country.

Is there any wonder that more than 1 million people legally immigrate into the United States each year? There are more foreign-born citizens here than any other country in the world. The next closest has four-times fewer. People all over the world want to come to the U.S. for freedom and opportunity. They want to live the American Dream.

Nearly eight decades ago, the United States was under attack. It took the Greatest Generation to win the war and restore the American way of life for themselves and future generations. We are the home of the free because of the brave. Now, we must raise up another generation of brave and selfless Americans willing to fight for liberty to ensure we remain the homeland for freedom.

• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at swalker@washingtontimes.com or follow him @ScottWalker.

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