Archive for November 5th, 2010

Getting the Back Down Generation Into Perspective

I talked before about the guys who wear their paper hats when they’re seventy and brag about their War Against Racism.

What they are demonstrating is that they haven’t had a life since.

I knew that my boss, John Ashbrook, spent three or four years in the Navy.

I didn’t know until twenty years after his death that, as a young Navy man, he was on a polar expedition with Admiral Byrd.

I had done a lot of research on him. I knew all there was to know about his father, who had been a conservative Democratic congressman. But his Polar trip just never came up.

Why should it? John died mysteriously when he about to win the Republican primary and was leading Senator Metzenbaum in the polls. I went to his funeral, but he didn’t. The police were still examining his body.

In other words, we had hell of a lot to talk about, and he had more to do than run around in a paper hat.

My uncles, who were with the marines in the Pacific, never said a WORD about it, and I must have talked to them a thousand hours over the years.

I was at a meeting to keep the Confederate flag over the South Carolina Capitol. I remember one of he guys talking about an old guy who wouldn’t commit himself. Someone said something about old guys and he replied, “No, he’s not one of the World War II crowd.”

I quote that because I remember it as a specific quote, and it showed that a lot of people besides me were aware that the World War II Generation was the Tough Guy Back Down Generation.

They would say things like, “I fought a WAR. I don’t want to get mixed up in little crap like this.” They backed away from any fight for principle, but they did it as Tough, Experienced Types.

They couldn’t be cowards, you see. They had had on costumes and one in three of them had heard a hostile shot fired. They watched the John Wayne movies and decided they were heroes.

As I said, when people like Carleton Coon parachuted into North Africa or John Ashbrook went to the Antarctic, it just never came up. Marines in the Pacific didn’t talk about it.

But now that I am not in one crisis or another day after day, things like this are falling place for me. I, too, was a bit too busy to philosophize. BUGS makes it possible for me to do so.