Senator John McCain was born in the 1930’s – just as my parents were.
Those born in the 1930’s are sometimes overlooked – stuck in the shadow of the generations before them who fought the Kaiser in World War I; and Hitler in World War II.
Even so, they are a generation that knows just as much about hardship and sacrifice and duty as those that came before them. They were born in the depths of the Great Depression. They witnessed the events, the rationing, the huge dislocations, the fear, and the losses of WWII. They are the generation who were starting families in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, and then had to raise their children in a world struggling to understand and redefine itself.
Many of them fought in the Vietnam War, as Senator McCain did. Many protested it, as my parents did. Many of them died there, their names recorded on that black wall that so many of us have visited and mourned. Many still bear the scars of that war in one way or another, as John McCain carried with him his entire life.
And they served in so many other ways as well: They sacrificed much to address the evils of social injustice, seeking equal Civil Rights for all. They fought for clean air and water. They fought to protect wildlife and our land from the effects of rampant and irresponsible exploitation and development. They are the generation that had to face the Cold War and its’ threat of global annihilation. They worked hard to make our country strong, prosperous, and just. They are the generation that walked on the Moon.
They are a truly great generation, as great as any generation that preceded them, or any that has followed.
Senator McCain was one of the greatest of that generation. And, he would agree that yes, he was greatly blessed in his life. But, from what I know of him, I am certain he would be sure to point out that he was just one of many in his generation who sacrificed much and worked hard so that the generations that follow can stand tall: prosperous, free, safe, and proud to call themselves Americans. He believed in us. He believed in who we are, and in our potential as the people of a great nation.
When I read the discouraging headlines and witness the divisiveness and the heated rhetoric, hate and bigotry that overwhelms us in today’s world, I remember that McCain spoke words of hope. He encouraged us to come together. He knew that we can and will accomplish great things when we remember that there is far more that unites us than divides us.
He believed right up to his last breath that America is a great nation, as are all of its people. And that – just as with his generation – the greatness of our own generations will shine through and become a beacon of hope for those who follow.
We may feel as if we are lost in the shadows of those who came before us, but John McCain’s generation is proof that there is greatness is within all of us: greatness that will shine forth when we come together and give it room to take root and grow.
– Pastor Allen
Copyright (c) 2018, Allen Vander Meulen III.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.