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The greatest generation gap

Dear Editors,

As we approach this Fourth of July holiday, I once again remember Tom Brokaw’s, former NBC newscaster, book Greatest Generation.

I have to ask myself when did the word “greatest” become “greediest.” Somewhere I guess since the early 1950s, when I was born. The robber barons of the early 1900s now look like saints.

Brokaw’s book examines the men and women who whipped the Depression, won World War II, and went on to create the post-war economic expansion that has given so much to many of us.

I applaud Brokaw for his writings to recognize my father’s generation, and I hope fully that our most patriotic holiday would bring wistful memories of these glory years. But I’m nonetheless troubled by the subtle message beneath much of this hero worship – that somehow, only wartime elevates people to greatness and that World War II was the swansong of American heroism.

A lot of this has to do with 40 years of strife and change in American life. The assassinations of JFK, RFK and Martin Luther King; the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, Watergate, Iraq War, and now unfettered corporate greed.

So we look backward, to the veterans who beat Hitler and the axis powers and who became loving parents, grandparents and heroes to us. All well and good, but not if it stops there.

Today, we need a “new” greatest generation to solve the problems of our economy, health care, global warming, and who have a new sense of faith in this country. Benjamin Franklin always told painters it was hard to tell between a rising and a setting sun. Some say there will never be an economic period again like there was from 1950 to 2007; thus we are the setting sun.

To change our course, we now need more than ever new volunteers to work in our schools, in church and civic organizations, and with the charities that are doing the tough work of revitalizing our communities.

We need parents who will run for school boards, join parent-teacher organizations, and stay up late with their kids to help them with their homework – efforts that will rebuild our much-maligned public schools and strengthen education.  

We need courageous community leaders who will help local governments manage the public’s business without fear of criticism or the expectation of reward.

We need people to help tutor at-risk kids, register new voters, conduct blood drives, and to do things as simple as pick up trash in our communities.

If we want inspiration for all of this, we need only look as far as the stories that Tom Brokaw writes and talks about. Stories about young men and women who saw their country was in trouble and answered that call with no expectation of reward and indeed, with the expectation of death itself.

Today, the enemies are not the armies of Japan or Germany or Italy, nor the ravages of an economic depression, but they are serious enemies nonetheless.

There is materialism, a lack of individual savings, which teaches our kids to put forth an effort only when they can expect a big reward and to work at jobs not to earn money for college but for cars, CDs, IPods, and a host of other useless stuff.

There is anti-governmentism, which at one end of the spectrum gives us a chorus of angry voices on talk radio and TV who think that every action of government is an affront to freedom. Funny enough, these same folks are often the first to laud the greatest generation – a group of people who elected and then partnered with their government to do the things that we salute them for on the Fourth of July.

There is apathy, a force of inertia that keeps us planted in front of the TV, stuck in our homes, and devoted only to our own pleasures.

There is still too much violence, in our schools and in our neighborhoods, and of course, in our hearts.

I watch and read a lot about Brokaw’s greatest generation. I see the goodness in their faces and I hear the truth of their stories. But nowhere do I hear them asking us for praise and remembrance of them.

From my own parents, and from the wisest of the greatest generation, I hear pleas to us not to forget the nation or the people that they fought so many years ago to save. They still need saving. But we live in an era where leaders are more concerned with the excise of their power rather than to the noble calling of public service. The new generation must have a new commitment to service and contribution beyond political agendas.

We should get to work or risk becoming the “worst” generation. We can once again become known for our greatness not our greed.  

– Jim Martin, e-mail

The source of Healing Waters

Dear Editors,

Last week you reported on the Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing trip. I would like to add some important information.

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing is a joint effort sponsored by Trout Unlimited and the Fly Fishing Federation. The purpose of this program is to use fly fishing and its related activities as a means of providing therapy for troops and veterans that are suffering from wounds or injuries, both physical and emotional.

The trip last week was sponsored by the Cheyenne Mountain Trout Unlimited Chapter of Colorado Springs and the Old Pueblo Trout Unlimited Chapter of Tucson. Extensive help was provided by the Five Rivers Chapter of Trout Unlimited here in Durango. These organizations deserve praise for all the hard work they put in.

The soldiers that attended were from the Warrior Transition Battalion Fort Carson, Colo.; the Warrior Transition Unit Fort Huachuca, Ariz.; and Community Based Warrior Transition Unit, Utah. The soldiers all had a great time and were generous in their expressions of gratitude.

I wish to thank the following businesses whose generosity was critical to the success of this effort: The Iron Horse Inn provided free lodging for the soldiers and generous discounts for the staff that accompanied them from Colorado Springs and Tucson; JBo’s Pizza and Ribs Co. hosted a dinner for everyone involved and offered free meals to the soldiers throughout their stay, the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad donated a trip to Cascade Canyon which was a great hit, Duranglers assisted with planning and provided discounted flies, Dry Creek Outfitters of Tucson and Angler’s Covey of Colorado Springs provided wading gear, while two guides from the Caddis Company provided float trips on the San Juan.

I would be remiss if I neglected to mention the 20 odd people form Tucson, Colorado Springs and Durango that acted as fishing mentors, cooks and gofers. Their help was indispensable.

Finally, I want to thank the soldiers; their enthusiasm and grace, while enduring pain and difficulty, was inspiring.

– Sincerely, Robin Marsett, via e-mail

Sign of the wolverine

To the Editor:

Diana Andrews’ letter (Herald, June 23) about a fairly recent sighting of wolverines here in the San Juans interests us greatly. We were about to dispute the report from the Wildlife Conservation Society that the last sightings in Colorado were in 1919, as we had an interesting wolverine encounter one evening in 1958 at the small lake along the Guanella Pass road above Georgetown.

We had no camera and did not report it to anyone, so it was undocumented. But size, configuration, coloration and aggressiveness (it moved towards us rather than retreating, snarling, with the pond in between) identified it beyond any doubt as a wolverine.

We will be intrigued to hear about other sightings of this rare and elusive beast, not one you want to get close to!

– Richard and Caye Geer, Durango



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows