We “Baby Boomers” have a lot of things in common.
For one thing we aren’t getting any younger and for another, many of us have suffered in comparison to our Fathers who have been lauded as “The Greatest Generation” … any way you look at it, that’s a pretty hard act to follow!
My Dad graduated high school and immediately joined what was then called The US Army Air Corps (later the US Air Force) in 1943. He successfully went through basic training and flight school to became a pilot of a B-25 bomber, serving over Burma in 1944-45.
If we’re honest … today, most of us are hesitant to let out 19 year-old kids take our new car for a spin around the block.
Dad is still alive and still enjoying himself at the age of 85 which makes me very happy every day. He remains my personal hero.
But, I digress …
Today, we learned that we had lost one of the higher profile members of this rapidly shrinking fraternity. Today we found out that Major Dick Winters … Commander of Easy Company of the 101st Airborne and central character in the highly praised book and HBO mini-series “Band of Brothers” has died at age 92.
For those who loved the book and marveled at the grit and realism of the mini-series, the idea of Major Winters being gone is practically a personal loss. He was described as an almost perfect military commander. A humble and self-effacing man who not only was devoted to his men, but was completely focused on performing his duty.
While I certainly did not know Major Dick Winters personally, thanks to author Stephen Ambrose, producer Tom Hanks, and director Steven Spielberg, I felt close to him and feel particularly sad at his passing.
Perhaps his story has been exaggerated … I don’t know. Certainly Easy Company was a very small part of the 101st Airborne and there were a lot of other heroes whose story did not get the high-profile treatment that Dick Winters and his men received.
Obviously there were thousands of heroes and it is inevitable that some will have their stories told while others will dwell in obscurity. They all deserve our respect and they all must be remembered.
It seems unlikely that we will ever see another set of circumstances like that which produced this most admired generation or a group of individuals so prepared and willing to deal with those circumstances that this generation labeled “The Greatest” faced … these heroes like Dick Winters … or my Dad … or your own Dad or Grandfather.
Treasure them while they are with us … remember them when they are gone.