The Kids Are Alright

By  Kevin Shannahan

kevinS-TWOThe nation is going to Hell in a handbasket. The schools are graduating, if you can call it that, semi-literates who can barely read their diplomas. The military is a mere shadow of what it used to be, now a bunch of politically correct whiners whose chief threat to this nation’s enemies is making them collapse with laughter as hapless GIs wave stress cards at Putin’s tanks.

As a middle aged curmadgeon, the glass if always half empty, if not completely empty, being almost a matter of faith that society is slipping off the rails. There’s just one problem-it is not necessarily so. One of the advantages of growing older is that it gives you a sense of perspective, of seeing the arc of people’s lives and of your own. In the twenty-two years I have lived in Louisiana after leaving the Air Force, I’ve been a schoolteacher and a Scoutmaster. Both positions allowed me the privilege of working with young people of different races and backgrounds. The intervening years have given me the opportunity to see them become adults.

My former Scout Troop just had its second alumni graduate from basic traing at Parris Island with two more on the way this summer. All of them are smart, capable young men, easily the equal of their ancestors at Belleau Wood, Iwo Jima and Khe Sanh. The current generation has done everything our nation asked of it in going on 15 years of continuous warfare. Any failures were not theirs on the battlefield, but of leadership-people my generation’s age. The popular internet meme showing WWII soldiers and comparing their sacrifices to hapless 20 somethings living in their parents’ basements and demanding safe spaces are somewhat unfair, if not downright insulting. Other young men from my old Troop are finishing up their college degrees or married and starting their own families. It was an honor to have played a small part in their upbringing and a pleasure to have witnessed them become husbands, fathers, Marines and workers-the kind of steady, reliable men who make this country work on a day-to-day basis.

Our society does indeed face serious problems, as it always has. From the Civil War, to the Great Depression, to WWI & II, to the upheavals of the 1960’s, there have always been problems, for such is the Human condition. I have no doubt that older cavemen sat around the fire and groused about how the younsters were spoiled rotten and couldn’t hunt mastadons like they did when they were young.

In 1941, Adolph Hitler, suffering either a memory lapse about how Belleau Wood turned out for the Kaiser less than twenty years earlier, or under the delusion that somehow the American Army of WWI was an accident of history, said in 1941, “What is America but beauty queens, millionaires, stupid records and Hollywood?” Events at Normandy, Bastogne, Anzio and countless other places were to prove that there was much more to America. It is no less so now than it was then. Each and every day in this great nation, young men and women get up and go to work, go to class, raise their children and build families. They stand watch all over the globe and fight with ferocity and courage. The nation is in good hands.