Commenter’s Thoughts

| December 28, 2020

              Nobody asked me, but…

One of the highlights of this gig is reading the thoughts and comments I receive from the TAH viewership. Critiques and ideas are always welcome, but best are those submitted for possible posting. These go beyond linking an article- someone took the time to tell a story, express an opinion, and wants to use us as their forum. I give all an even shot, and look forward to the comments generated as much as the author.

So our own penguinman000 took the time to opine on a subject that’s been a topic of discussion for some time here, generational angst.

This Is the New Greatest Generation

As I get more gray hair on top and my middle keeps creeping wider I’ve noticed a consistent refrain amongst the older generation. It’s probably existed since the dawn of time.

This new generation is lazy. They don’t want to put in the work. They don’t care. I’m pretty sure if you took a time machine back you would hear Leonidas and Lycurgus commiserating about how “soft” kids are now days.

“Why it only took me 2 minutes to strangle a helot in my day. These kids today are taking 5 minutes. They take no pride in their work.”

I believe they were wrong then. And I believe those saying the same thing today are wrong now.

One of the best things that will come out of America’s longest war is our battle-hardened men and women returning to civilian society.

I’ve seen these young men and women do amazing things without complaint. I’ve seen them make hard choices, shield the innocent with their own bodies, and sacrifice. My Lord, have I seen them sacrifice. I’m reminded of a young squad leader on a deployment to Afghanistan.

This young man, 22 or 23 years old at most, had a high school education. Most “adults” in the states wouldn’t trust him to get their coffee order right. And he certainly wouldn’t have been put in charge of anything in the civilian world.

Yet there he was; responsible for the lives of 11 other men in a war zone.

Early into the deployment he’s leading a patrol with the purpose of conducting a Key Leader Engagement (KLE) at one of the small villages in his AO. When the rest of us get there, he is talking with the villagers and attempting to determine what they need. The negotiations are going back and forth. A call comes over the radio of Troops In Contact (TIC). He breaks off the KLE politely, then sprints 2 km with his men to the fight. They enter the brawl swinging. Some of his were wounded and some of theirs were killed. He assists with the Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) and taking care of the wounded. Then turns right around and goes back to the KLE. He sits down and resumes the conversation without missing a beat.

The mission wasn’t over. Doesn’t matter how bad his day was.

This young Sergeant is not the exception. Their number is legion.

This is who is returning to society.

They know sacrifice. They know pain. They know how to make hard choices. They care. They’re motivated. They’re capable.

They have seen their brothers and sisters struggle to get the care they need or find jobs. They’ve seen politicians shirking their duty. They’ve had enough and are taking action.

We’ve already started to see them making an impact.

They’ve started nonprofits and took their place amongst NGOs. They started their own companies and have been assisting veterans with finding meaningful employment. They’ve started running for, and winning, elected office.

They are succeeding.

Some people may worry about this younger generation. I don’t. I firmly believe this generation of warriors is going to right the ship.

I suspect history will look back on them as our new greatest generation.

Watching my two sons grow into the fine men they are makes me tend to agree. Thanks, Pen.

Category: Guest Post, Military issues, Society

Comments (27)

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  1. Thanks Pen, nice post and one shouldn’t underestimate the younger Mil generation.

  2. Friend says:

    Got a softie (32) who lives a few doors down who came to Christmas dinner with his wife (they are friends)…
    Old timer (raised on a farm, always worked good ol boy) was floored when softies wife fixed his plate and actually fed his ass..
    Old timers been over everyday asking WTF was that all about.

    • Slow Joe says:


      So let me get this right. If my wife fixes my plate and the kids, which she does every day as she believes in the traditional gender roles and do not let me do anything in the kitchen, with the grill in the backyard being my only tool to express my culinary expertise, then this means my wife and I are some sort of liberals?


      • Friend says:

        She actually feeds him like a child by the spoonful…I also make my adult children’s plates but taught them how to feed themselves years ago…
        Dudes a whiny wimp who complains about how rough life is…

        • Mason says:

          What in the actual fuck? He’s an able-bodied adult male, married no less, and needs to be hand fed? Unless he’s driving a chair through a mouth tube, he can feed himself. Talk about embarrassing.

    • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

      I’m with the old timers, what in the actual fuck is that all about?

    • HMCS(FMF) ret says:

      UFB! I can understand if he has a disability or had a arm in a sling… but having the missus feed you when your health?

      Probably walks around with a diaper on…

      • timactual says:

        I have no respect for any “man” who can’t feed himself—that includes being able to cook if necessary.

  3. Roh-Dog says:

    Many of my fellow Infantrymen had responsibilities that ‘outstipped’ their supposed stations in life, as dictated by general society. (bless their hearts)
    Hell, at one point I signed for $34 MILLION worth of equipment, some of which was Secret and had to be handled more carefully than a baby.
    One of our guys was at a full ride academic scholarship at Georgetown on 9/11, had said to himself “why should the poors go to war? I want revenge too!”, take THAT those-who’d-judge my generation of Warriors.
    I’ve served with the best and brightest; scholars, mechanics, Patriots, fathers, brothers, and yes, criminals, ALL putting themselves in harms way to better the world.
    I’m unbelievably humbled to be part of the GWOT Generation of Service Members.
    So much, with so little, fully knowing that Our conflict was the most open-ended in history.
    Given the opportunity I believe these Americans can lead us once again to greatness.
    (Bravo and H/T to penguinman000!)

  4. Ex-PH2 says:

    I see a huge lot of that group of people who are responsible, smart, and willing workers. They are productive enough to make any parent proud, not standing around with their hands out, looking for “stuff”.

    They are a large portion of their generation.

  5. OWB says:

    There is good and bad in every generation. Could be simply because every generation is composed of human beings with all our glorious characteristics, warts, and halos. Some folks excel in spite of their poor circumstances while others manage to fail in spite of having advantages the rest of us will never see.

    There also seem to always be those who would exploit the good and the bad among us. Every generation has them.

    Well stated, pen. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    Of course for every ten of these there are 990 who are not quite built from the same materials.

    It’s not a question of whether or not we have some capable young men and women, it’s a question of how many young men and women we have of this nature.

    Our all volunteer force is less than one percent of the population these days, and over half of that group comes from those who already served. The reality of this is that we create a small subclass of those with a warrior’s mind set amongst a general population ever more removed from the reality of service.

    I too have hope that our younger population has a fierce spirit and is aware of the work required to move our nation forward.

    The jaded realist in me who served, and then volunteered for three decades has seen something else though…an ever increasing number of people who no longer wish to volunteer but would prefer to cut a check and avoid volunteerism at all costs.

    That’s not a recipe for a powerful, unified voice to unite the nation.

  7. SFC D says:

    This could very well be the “New Greatest Generation”. The thing is, we’ll never know, because the members of this generation that are productive, self-starting people are out there busting their asses earning what they get and not out in the streets crying about the latest outrage. They’re there, you just can’t see them on the news.

    • penguinman000 says:

      I figure we survived 1860-65 and 1960-79. We are going to weather this just fine.

      To borrow a phrase from that most amazing poet laureate, Mr. Cash, “She’s been through the fire before and I believe she can take a whole lot more.”

  8. Slow Joe says:

    Yeah but, what percentage of our population serves in the military?

    I don’t think it is enough to affect elections, plus I have come across quite a few progs in active duty. They are the minority, granted, but they are there, both enlisted and commissioned officers.

    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      Bell curves have both plus and minus three sigma areas.

      For every 5%-er, somewhere is the corresponding squeaks-through dud. At least they volunteered, whatever mediocrity they wind up delivering.

      Only about 9% of the men of the USA served in WW2, and that war hit home much more often. Ships sank in flaming ruin in view of our coast. Firebombs and AP bombs fell on our west coast. We had territory invaded and held. We almost lost.

      Only -nine- percent served, and our war only lasted four years.

      In fifty years, we may be commenting on how absurdly strong was our 21st Century 1%, to bear such a two-decade burden with little real support beyond slogans. (20 and counting)

      The old-timers always see the kids as soft. They die out before the whole score is recorded. This war, more than others.

      • Hondo says:

        While it may be true that only 9% of all US men served in the military during World War II, the ages of those individuals serving were decidedly not uniformly distributed. As I noted in a recent article, it’s an old truism that “war is a young man’s game”.

        The reality for the GI Generation (popularized as “The Greatest Generation” by Tom Brokaw’s book of the same name) is far different. Members of that generation (born 1901-1927) were the “young men” fighting during World War II. Published reports indicate that nearly half of the GI Generation served during wartime – presumably during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, or some combination thereof. Some smaller number must have also served during peacetime only; I’d thus not be surprised if the total of that generation’s men with military service isn’t a majority.

        • 11B-Mailclerk says:

          We don’t fight that way anymore, so no mass enlistments or drafts. Not even close.

          Even if 9% wanted to serve, they would not be accepted, so no comparison.

          To say the later generations didn’t answer in equal number is false comparison. We didn’t ask them in equal number. Quite the contrary, we were picky.

          • Hondo says:

            We don’t fight that way today because our nation hasn’t been involved in any similar fight since. No war since World War II has been anywhere as near the same scope or required the same level of national effort over a 4-year period. Even Vietnam and Korea were relatively small in scope by comparison. The WOT has similarly been (by comparison) relatively small level of effort spread out over a long period of time. None of these conflicts required an near-“all-out” national effort on the scale of World War II.

            Yes, each US generation has “answered the bell” admirably. However, that doesn’t mean the military’s impact on each generation has been equal – nor has the military’s overall input to society remained constant. And the change seems to have been the end of the draft.

            From World War II until the end of the draft the generational impact of military service (e.g., the fraction of a generation’s males who were veterans) was remarkably consistent. For the GI Generation, as I noted above that fraction was almost certainly a bit over 50%. For the next generation (the Silent Generation, born 1928-1945) the veteran fraction was approximately 47%. For the Baby Boom Generation (1946-1964), the veteran fraction is 40% – with the great majority of that being during the Vietnam War. I haven’t looked up the numbers, but I’d guess the percentage of the “Lost Generation” – born 1883-1900 – that had military service was considerable as well. The US military ramped up hugely during World War I, and the US population was on the order of 105M or thereabouts then.

            That changed with the end of the draft in 1972. The change in 1972 to an all-volunteer military due to the end of the draft, coupled with post-Vietnam downsizing, meant that the fraction of the second half of the “boomer” generation serving in the military was almost certainly far smaller than for the first half; those born in 1955 and later were never subject to being drafted. The same has been true for all subsequent generations: no draft, and a far smaller percentage of each subsequent generation has military service.

            Bottom line: for at least three generations, between 40 and 50 percent of US males shared the common experience of having served in the military (depending on the fraction of those in the “Lost Generation” who served in the military, it may well be 4 generations). For the last three generations (Gen X, Millennial, Gen Z), the percentage having that common experience appears to be somewhere around or below 5%. (I couldn’t quickly find veteran percentage for Gen X. But since a large majority of that generation’s military service would have occurred during their 18-22 years, or primarily between 1983 and 2002 – a period that, except for the Gulf War and immediately after 9/11 was generally during peacetime and when the US military was smaller than during the draft era – I’d guess that Gen X’s veteran percentage is on par with or lower than that of the Millennial Generation.)

            That change has probably been good for the military; a smaller force with less turnover logically would imply a more professional and capable force than a draftee-based army. Whether that’s a good thing for US society overall is a different question altogether, however – and I’m not sure that question has the same answer.

            Again: not pointing a finger at any generation; each has done what was asked of them. But since 1972, in terms of the fraction serving in the military far less has been asked of those younger Americans “coming of age” than in years prior.

        • timactual says:

          And let’s not forget the Merchant Marine.

          ” the Merchant Marine lost between 9,000 and 12,000 sailors during the war, depending on whose numbers you use. The National World War Two museum puts the number of dead and presumed dead at 11,324, a loss rate of almost 4 percent.”

          “The Merchant Marine suffered a higher casualty rate than any branch of the military, losing 9,300 men, with most of the losses occurring in 1942,”

          • Roh-Dog says:

            I’ll drink to that, Ladies and Gentlemen charge your glasses and hoist an ample one to our Merchant Marines!

            At the local Veterans Memorial we made sure to include their flag, as is the right thing to do.

            God bless them.

            • OWB says:

              Have always considered a friend of mine to be a veteran even though his service was in the Merchant Marine. He was issued an M-16 when they made port calls in Viet Nam and used it to return fire. In my estimation he is more of a combat veteran than most with whom I served in the military.

  9. KoB says:

    I have spent the last several decades watching what I considered the decay of our society. Watching perfectly healthy young men and women make fools of themselves, not work, not take responsibility, and have their hand out for more. I watched my company, and many others, try to get and keep qualified help to do technical or skilled labor. I hoped and prayed that the ones NOT in the news were enough “yeast to leaven the bread” to make a difference. I said a prayer each day for our troops deployed to foreign soil and wept for each that came home maimed or in a coffin, metal handles.

    Over the past week I had an opportunity to watch the movie “The Out Post.” Had never seen it, but recognized that it was COP Keating. I knew the basics of the story from articles and knew of the Valor that had been shown. Needless to say it got very dusty in the room while watching. With a Regiment of men like that I could conquer the World.

    Great write up P’man…Thanks

  10. penguinman000 says:

    Thanks for the kind words all.

    What can I say? I’m an optimist.

  11. mmcm(sw)nuc says:

    When I was a young sailor…some of the older sailors always talked down about the attitudes and abilities of the younger sailors.
    When I was an older sailor, I heard some of my fellow older sailors also talk down about the younger sailors…
    I always responded: “Get off your head out of your ass, lead and shut up.”