Television news anchor Tom Brokaw's politics are
more liberal than mine, but he wrote a remarkable
book, The Greatest Generation.
A reviewer for Books on Tape said: "Brokaw's
homage to the Americans who overcame the Depression
and World War II, The Greatest Generation, is expanded
with this collection of stories, interviews and personal
histories of that generation. Enforcing his thesis that
we owe a huge debt of gratitude to those tough and
courageous men and women for ensuring the freedoms and
comforts that we take for granted today, Brokaw shows
how they were sustained by simple ideals of patriotism,
duty, family and honor. These are new, intensely personal
perspectives of a momentous time in our history written
by average, and yet remarkable, people who lived through
those years. Some were written from the front during the
war, others were written recently. Inspirational and
instructive, this is really a book written by America.
A remarkable and very personal thank you before this
amazing generation, like old soldiers, fades away."
I mention this, because the "Greatest Generation" are
the people my generation looked up to. They were - are - our
heros. Can you believe people left their homes, jobs,
careers to fight in a war half-way across the world?
Executives left their offices, movie stars, sports and
radio personalities left their comfort to serve their country.
The wives and mothers had created a new life at home while
the able bodied men were off fighting the war. Women took
jobs in defense plants, planted victory gardens, rolled
bandages, served the Red Cross and USO, the 'little woman'
became a responsible part of the victory over Germany and
Japan. Many women joined the services, nurses, Wacs,
Waves.....names some of you probably haven't heard.
And when the men came back they performed miracles, and
created a new way of life in America. Everything from
frozen food, freeze dried food, housing developments,
manufacturing methods, radar, sonar, and a zillion
other technical innovations to fiberglass. Yes, the
fiberglass of the fly-rod fame.
Fly fishing changed about this time too. Injured servicemen
were introduced to fly-tying while in military hospitals,
when they returned home, many pursued the fishing to go
with the tying. Fly fishing changed from an elitist
rich man's sport to one attainable to anyone who wanted
to fly fish. Those men, our fathers, uncles, grandfathers
were our heros.
They were also the ones who fought to preserve our rivers
and lakes. They founded organizations like Trout Unlimited,
FFF, Ducks Unlimited. They felt preserving the water and
the wildlife was important. So they did it. They lobbied
for state and federal protection of the waters and got
laws passed no one thought possible.
I'm writing this, because there seems to be a huge gap
between those of us who lived with the 'greatest generation,'
who saw it in action, who benefitted from the sacrifice of
those who defended this country and those who think
patriotism is a dirty word. Those who served in Korea
and Viet Nam have never received the proper thanks from
their country - and for the most part not from the average
American citizen either. We are in shock when we read
the comments and posts on this website from people who
attack our country, it's leaders, the military and the
average American who does support them. Since I lived
through those wars, I find it very difficult to understand
the vicious anger of those who didn't.
I've always said I thought fly fishers were the nicest group
of people I have ever been associated with. Frankly, most
of that group I associated with were of my age group or older,
contemporaries. People who had the same frame of
reference - and for the most part the same values!
We respected each other, our country and the privilege
of being able to fish wonderful waters. We stood for
the National Anthem. (In fact as a kid, I stood in my
livingroom when it was played on the radio at the start
of a baseball game!) Men removed their hat and covered
their heart when the flag passed by. Folks went to parades
on the 4th of July and knew what they were there to celebrate.
We knew actions had consequences.
My respect for the flag and all it represents, our
country and our military has not changed.
But it seems to me, we have a generation or two of fly
fishers who never had the heros my generation had. Who
are their heros? Jane Fonda, Timothy O'Leary, Rolling
Stones, Elvis, Madonna, Sean Penn and Barbra Streisand?
The values which we accepted with honor are not their
values. For most it seems to be 'me first, blame America
first, it's not my fault and I'm not responsible.'
We do not have the same frame of reference.
And this makes me very sad.
Our country will survive. Our flag will still wave.
But fly fishing may not survive.
Who will fight for it? ~ The LadyFisher
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