The death of Queen Elizabeth II
By Shane Gilreath
The death of Queen Elizabeth II was noted around the world, but it marked a continuation of losses from a generation who have exemplified service. It’s a generation we should continue to look toward for guidance and example, both in life and in remembrance. This is just as true in the United States as in Great Britain or France or any one of the countries who have produced warriors of this ilk. Instead, sometimes, it feels like we arbitrarily drop the baton they’ve so heroically passed to us.
Of the 70 million Americans who served in the Second World War, there are less than a quarter million still alive. Every week, in obituaries across the country, we see the men and women of that generation slip, unnoticed, into the great beyond, but I wonder if, when we see their names, their ages, or even, on occasion, their military rank, do we take a moment to think about what they did for us, in the name of a future they couldn’t have known existed? They bear the moniker, after all, “the Greatest Generation” with just cause, and we, the subsequent generations, remain their great debtors.
From the introspection of a modern, we may have broader social consciousness and superior technology, but that, too, is minimally subjective and much thanks to a generation that embraced thanklessness and humility, despite the services they rendered. When WWII began, the idea of computers – the word did exist – was mostly to imply human calculations, a la the great Hepburn and Tracey film, Desk Set. However, it was with this generation that advancements came, largely out of necessity, as the United States and Great Britain began developing computerized technology to calculate trajectories and decipher enemy code. The same could be said of advancements in radar technology, which allowed Royal Air Force pilots, including the American aces of the Eagle Squadrons, to successfully defend Britain by sky against an onslaught of Herman Goering’s Luftwafe.
The veracity of the 21st Century is, if we take a hard inventory of our world, what we should quickly realize is, that we, circumstantially, are not so different. The truth is, when the world was thrust into war with despotic advancements across Europe, something we certainly know about, the generation of our grandparents didn’t protest in the streets or burn down cities or necessarily look for blame. They rallied. They saluted the ideas of freedom against oppression and got to work. It’s a shame, for all we’ve been given – maybe because of all we’ve been given – we don’t have more of that ideology engrained in modernity, coupled with, what should be, an endearing appreciation of the past.