I did a bit of self reckoning this past June 6th on the 68th Aniversary of D-Day.
Growing up in the 1960s, when someone in the neighborhood received the news that they had been fired or laid off it was not something neighbors readily talked about out loud. Many times people hid the fact and quietly put their houses on the market. Other times we only heard a family was moving because somebody's father had been transferred to another town. We never really knew if they were gladly accepting this transfer or doing it to just keep bread on the table.
Times have surely changed. Today one would be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn't been laid off, fired, or terminated at least once or twice. It is so commonplace that people do not speak in hushed tones or try to change the subject like my parents might have when I was younger.
To find someone like my father, who worked at the same law firm for 30 years, is nearly impossible. Of course, he was part of a different generation, some call the Greatest Generation. We honor these people today on the 68th Anniversary of D-Day.
I cannot even imagine what these men and women in the Armed Forces were thinking, and the fear they must have felt, when they were told they were going to invade the continent of Europe. Hitler was clearly a threat to the world, that could be seen clearly then as it can now with the 20/20 hindsight of history. But how were people not directly involved in the making of war made to feel it was their duty to help rid the planet of this menace? The truth is, whether they knew it or not, they possessed a sort of courage I can only hope to have in the face of a similar call to demonstrate this highest of human qualities.
I suppose this fortitude contributed to their reticence to speak about the terrible anguish they saw during WWII, and the suffering they endured. It also helps explain why so little was usually said about neighbors losing their jobs and moving away. When you have lived through a World War I guess the loss of a job seems rather trite. Maybe that is why people take losing their job so hard these days, even if it has happened more than once, and has happened to everyone they know. I suppose we lack a hardship to compare our job loss with. Or maybe our imaginations cannot conjure an image where the Hitlers threaten the world and we must act to defend all we hold true and good.
I lost my job last month and am not too anguished by it, especially on this anniversary of D-Day. It's not that I don't care or am especially brave. My only explanation is that many people gave their lives to support this current time in my life. The least I can do is honor them by peacefully going about making a fresh start, just like they would have done.