In the past week, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with several members of what has been called the “Greatest Generation.” I’ve come to realize that, through all these people went through, they truly are great.
One Roswell gentleman and an Alpharetta couple – all in their late 90s – are more active than I am, and have lived through some of the most amazing of times.
All three were born before the Great Depression. One man even recalled his earliest memory, which was that of seeing his father dressed in his uniform to go off to the battlefields of World War I in 1915. He grew up in the Great Depression, learning how to live lean and enjoy what you have, instead of yearning for more.
Both men served in the Second World War, and, oddly enough, both served in the Navy in the Pacific Theater. Their stories from wartime were both horrifying and enthralling, stories that no history book (or article) could ever do justice – first person accounts of actual events in history. Listening to them remember these iconic events – such as the signing of peace with the Japanese – is like hearing a survivor of the Sept. 11 attacks remember that day. No amount of prose or video can begin to describe what it’s like to hear a survivor speak.
These people have grown up in a century that has seen dramatic change. The 95-year-old woman told me how fascinating it was to go on a “car date” with her future husband (who drove his father’s Model T car). Then she went into how she loved the Apple iPads and all they can do. The juxtaposition of history for me was just life moving on for her.
We often report on how North Fulton is becoming a mecca for retirement homes and the seniors who populate them. Everyone should make time in their lives to sit down with their parents, grandparents (great-grandparents even) and ask them about their lives – you might be surprised by what they tell you.
I lost both sets of grandparents before I was curious enough to ask about them, and now I deeply regret this – research is the only way I can find out about their lives. Don’t wait too long to find out interesting stories not just about your family members, but also about the world.
Look forward to articles on these amazing people in the coming weeks.