Greatest Generation's Greatest Virtue: Their Moral Clarity

The Greatest Generation faced and surmounted four crises: the social and economic upheavals of industrialization (including the Great Depression); a second world war against abject evil; the rise of the Soviet “super-state” as a rival to democratic-capitalism; and the struggle to ensure the self-evident and inalienable rights of all Americans through the civil rights movement.

Today, our generation of Americans must also confront and transcend a quartet of crises: the social and economic upheavals of globalization; a third world war against abject evil; the rise of communist “China, Inc.” as a rival to democratic-capitalism; and the erosion of our self-evident truths by moral relativism.

Yet there is a critical difference between the crises confronted by the Greatest Generation and our generation of Americans: generally, they faced their crises consecutively; we face our crises simultaneously.

Amid these turbulent times, our first task is to comprehend this quartet of crises; and our second task is to construct policies which through the rule of law will wrest order from the chaos. Order, alone, and law, alone, will not suffice to re-establish and retain our domestic tranquility and security. Order without law is oppression; and law without order is illusion. We must, therefore, have both law and order, because both are needed to seed the fruits of justice and peace.

In seeking order and law (and, thus, justice and peace, tranquility and security), we must be heartened and guided by Greatest Generation’s greatest virtue, which fortified their resilient, purposeful steps along their path to legend: their moral clarity. The Greatest Generation knew America was the greatest nation. This was no blind belief. It was a conviction born of right reason applied to the providential unfolding of their personal experience with America’s fundamental truths, traditions, rights and duties. Possessed of such purpose, the Greatest Generation was able to marshal the full spiritual and material prowess of their nation to surmount their challenges and attain the zenith of acclaim.

If we are to emulate their heroism, it is imperative for us to stem the erosion of our free republic’s foundational, self-evident truths by the insidious myths of moral relativism. This crisis is especially disturbing, as only through a united acceptance and adherence to universal truths worth defending even unto death did the Greatest Generation prevail. Now we must do no less to unite, triumph, and transcend our simultaneous quartet of crises.

Undoubtedly, of course, there will be those who resist history’s invitation and pale before its patent reality; and, more ominously, there will be those who deny our perilous present and the inherent goodness of our nation. If they prevail in the public square, we are damned. For if in our duty we falter and fail, generations unnamed will rue the day we slipped the womb to salt their earth.

Never! Let us embrace what we cannot escape; and accept our generation’s invitation to immortality. Let us greet these trying times with prudence, resilience, and perseverance, steeped in the triumphs of the past and steeled in our knowledge we are the Americans who must and will preserve and perpetuate our free republic’s revolutionary experiment in constitutional democracy in the face of chaotic tribulations. And when we succeed, our free progeny will eternally laud our courageous and perspicacious defense of their liberty, and all humanity’s “last best hope” on earth.