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THE GREATEST GENERATION

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: "This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny."

The year was 1940, and it would be called the fulcrum of America in the 20th century. The nation was balanced precariously between the darkness of the Great Depression on one side and the storms of war in Europe and the Pacific on the other. It was a critical time in the reshaping of this nation and the world, equal to the Revolution of 1776 and the perils of the Civil War. Once again the American people understood the magnitude of the challenge, the importance of an unparalleled national commitment, and most of all, the certainty that only one resolution was acceptable.

The nation turned to its young to carry the heaviest burden, to fight in enemy territory and to keep the home front secure and productive. These young men and women were eager for the assignment. They understood what was required of them, and they willingly volunteered for their duty.

Out of that generation would come:

Thomas Broderick -- He would take a German bullet through the temple and return to the United States blind for life. He would learn Braille and become a wealthy man who established a local insurance business. He refused to allow anyone in the house use the word "blind" around him.

Charles Van Gorder -- He would go to the war as a physician and operate in tents as they were taking fire from the Germans. He would land on the beaches of Normandy shortly after D-Day and operate on patients for 28 to 30 hours at a time without sleep. He left the war and went to a small town in Andrews, North Carolina and build a hospital along with John Rodda another physician he met in the Army.

Those are just two of the profiles of men who came from what some have termed "The Greatest Generation."

(From a sermon by Philip Harrelson, "The Greatest Generation" 1/30/2009)

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