Monday, May 26, 2008

Praising the Greatest Generation

Here is an article by the always thought-provoking David Gelernter:

Too Much, Too Late

Baby boomers heap insincere praise on the "greatest generation."

The campaign is especially intense among members of the 1960s generation who once chose to treat all present and former soldiers like dirt and are willing at long last to risk some friendly words about World War II veterans, now that most are safely underground and guaranteed not to talk back, enjoy their celebrity or start acting like they own the joint. A quick glance at the famous Hemingway B.S. detector shows the needle pegged at Maximum, where it's been all week, from Memorial Day through the D-Day anniversary run-up

A great example in support of Gelernter’s critique shows up clearly in the treatment of Cowboy’s coach Tom Landry. For most of his career, he was mocked as Robo-coach. His stoic demeanor was completely out of step with the Swinging 60s and the Me-Decade 70s. For many reporters it was evidence of a flawed personality. Landry, it was said, (and said and said) had a computer where his heart should be. He showed no emotion because he lacked passion and empathy.

It was glib and easy to repeat. That it was not true was of little concern to the new breed of sportswriters and TV men.

Cowboy great Bob Lilly understood the Landry manner because he had seen it before. He understood its roots. It was the way that men of that generation acted, especially after they came back from the war.

Landry served in the Army Air Force in World War two. He flew 30 bomber missions over Germany. His brother Robert, also in the AAF, died in a B-17 crash in 1943.

George MacDonald Fraser, who served in Slim’s army in Burma, described the attitude of the veteran soldier:

the resolve to conceal emotion which is not only embarrassing and useless, but harmful, is just plain common sense.

He could have been writing about Tom Landry, man and coach. Of course, no one in American sports media was perceptive enough to write like that about Landry when he was coaching.

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