Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Being Fifty Plus

By Randy J. Cole

If you are fifty plus such as I, first you are to be congratulated. It wasn’t easy getting here but we did it. Pat yourself on the back. No matter how you feel about your accomplishments during those past five decades or so, you should acknowledge to yourself that you are now a wealth of information for the young, provided that they take the time to ask. It is clear that many of the things that we experienced during the fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties cannot be recreated on a hard drive of some computer. Sure the images are there but not the smell, taste and emotion of what we saw and heard. I smile when I ask my children what they did in school and they answer, “In history we are studying about the president that got shot in Texas.” My reply is always, “Oh really, let me tell you what it was like on that day," because like every other fifty plus person out there I was old enough to remember where I was and what I was doing when it happened. The same goes for the other major events of our time. Other assassinations, space exploration including the landing of man on the moon and so much more. I don’t know if my children recognize that what I have to say is important, or maybe they are just being polite. But they do listen to me and with luck they will remember what I have to say.
I listened to my father when he talked, but the problem was I didn’t ask enough questions. I missed the chance of finding out what it was like when he served in World War II. I missed my chance; he was buried with military honors in 98. I still smell the gun powder from the twenty one gun salute and I still remember the faces of the old veterans who fired those rounds. Most
of these gentlemen would soon take the role of my father as recipients of this time honored salute. They knew it and you could see it in their faces. As fifty plus Americans, we should understand the sacrifice that was made by our fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles and share it with our children and grandchildren. If you are lucky enough to have a living relative or friend that served in WWII, take your children and grandchildren to them. Encourage the kids to ask questions and the veterans to answer. There are still a number of World War II veterans alive to answer questions for the young but you can’t waste anytime asking them. Time runs short. One event coming within our lifetime my friends will be the passing of the last piece of living history from the war that had to be fought, and had to be won. I thought about it as I walked around the beautiful memorial to the veterans who served in World War II in our capitol a few years back. It is my favorite of all the memorials and I wish my father would have been able to see it. I wish that every living veteran from WWII could see it. I would gladly give up a portion of my tax return if it were to be put into a plan that would provide an opportunity for remaining veterans to go there and experience the thoughtfulness that was put into its design. It would also be a good reminder for younger people that we would have nothing as a nation if those honored by this monument had not made the sacrifices that they had made. In closing let me remind you that being close to someone who served or was a spouse or girlfriend or boyfriend to one that had served and not asking them to reflect is like walking into a library with blinders. Take the time to ask.