Last Salute

We may have brave men, but we’ll never have better

Peadar Kearney, Bold Fenian Men (1916)






The passing of Bob Dole, so close to the eightieth anniversary of Pearl Harbor, is being marked with deserved accolades.  It takes nothing from Dole to note that some of the outpouring of love and affection is a tribute to his generation that fought World War II, to the men who bore the battle and to the women who “womened” the war factories and waited anxiously for their men to come home.  It reminds me of a similar reaction in American history when the last of the Civil War veterans were departing this Vale of Tears and their fellow citizens knew that a generation of giants was passing.  (Similar sentiments were expressed during the Civil War about the last veterans of the Revolution.)  We are now as far removed in time from our entry into World War II as we were in 1941 from the start of the Civil War in 1861.

Time is doing what Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan could not do.  But death is not defeat for a life honorably lived.  Only a few ancient members of that generation now remain.  It is hard to remember them as most of them were during the War:  young, tough and determined.  After they got home, those who made it through the War, they would make many changes in our society, as they proved themselves to be one of the most consequential generations in American history.   I think Bob Dole gave a last salute to the casket of George H. W. Bush partially as a final salute to their generation, and that is what is being done now by many for Bob Dole.

Lest we grow too solemn, let us recall Dole’s sense of humor, another hallmark of his generation who rarely took themselves seriously as their nickname for soldiers, GI’s, Government Issue, self deprecatingly indicated:


Published in: on December 8, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Last Salute  
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