When I was very little, around five, my Granddaddy took me to see a parade of Civil War Veterans. They were around 85 years old. After the parade he took me over and introduced me to one he knew. At the time, I was not aware of the importance of that meeting.
Especially, when my Granddaddy told me that this gentleman, when he was my age, had attended a similar parade. Only that parade was of Revolutionary War Veterans.
Not until I was quite a bit older did it dawn in me that this was a historic meeting. I had shaken hands with a man who shook hands with a Veteran of the Revolution. The start of the America we live in today. I was only two handshakes away from our beginnings.
Our beginnings as a nation that unshackled itself from the bonds of oppression of an unrelenting taskmaster. In 1783 we, as a nation, put down our arms and shook hands with our former enemies. It was our first handshake as Americans.
OK, fast forward to 2016. Here we are Americans still living in a world of endless wars. Wars that kill and destroy families. Families that so many of those of the “Greatest Generation” gave their lives to protect and save.
A few are still here among us. Not for very much longer, but their families will go on, and if they can learn the lessons that their fathers gave their lives for, they can honor their memories. They can inherit and pass along the living that their fathers made for them.
They, in so doing, will become the legacy of that Greatest Generation. They will inherit and pass along the duty, sacrifice and honor that that term signifies.