My parents were part of what author Tom Brokaw calls the Greatest Generation. They stood in line to see the “Jazz Singer” in 1927. Twelve years later, Frank Sinatra was all the rage. When Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, my parents had to tell their two small sons we were at war.
When my brothers grew up in the early ’50s, America was on a collision course with the Soviet Union. Luckily, Elvis burst on the scene in 1956, so the Cold War wasn’t the only thing my older brothers had to contend with as young adults.
By the time the Russians launched Sputnik in 1957, I was in elementary school. Yes, I practiced diving under my desk in case of a surprise nuclear strike.
I was 12 when John F. Kennedy was elected president. After he was murdered in Dallas, the country fell into a deep depression. Luckily for my generation, the Beatles invaded America 10 weeks after JFK was laid to rest. Five years later, when Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon, we were knee deep into Vietnam.
Today, America still is at war. The sad truth is, my three children, ages 22 to 37, hardly have known a time when U.S. forces weren’t fighting somewhere. This includes sending troops into battle during the two Gulf Wars, as well as into Iraq and Afghanistan.
Coupled with deteriorating relations with Iran, these wars were the launching pads for the terrorists who attacked us 16 years ago. Their successors, known today as ISIS, still want to inflict grave harm to America.
Life as we knew it changed forever on 9/11. We must never forget those who died that terrible day in New York, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. At my age, I know how lucky I am to live in America. I hope my daughter and her two older brothers can say the same thing 30 years from now.
Denny Freidenrich, Laguna Beach