The search for leaders

There are not many times we feel sorry for the young.

Yet, this week as we approach the 72nd anniversary of the “date which will live in infamy” – the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 – we feel privileged to have been the children of the “Greatest Generation” and the bridge to the dawn of the technological revolution.

Most of the pride that we feel deals with bygone heroes. The sadness we feel for our children and their contemporaries is the lack of those leaders and their dreams.

Our parents won the Second World War. Then came the building of the greatest middle class in history – the boom of the 1950s. The graduates of war made a pledge to build a better American society for their heirs – and did so.

Everybody – yes, E-V-E-R-Y body – believed in, and was committed to, a better tomorrow for the next generation and respect for those who had sacrificed for that dream.

The attack on Pearl Harbor was the start of a war – but it was also the beginning of the realization of America’s promise. The official end of the Depression was rooted in the post-war graduates of the GI Bill and the democratization of a quasi-agrarian society.

In short, the serfs got a vote and a shot at the American Dream.

The sorrow we feel for the young of the day is they believe their parents’ – and grandparents’ – accomplishments are now their rights. They are more comfortable arguing for their inheritance than working for their future – and fighting for a better life for their children.

It may well be that today’s political leaders do not have the influence, or character, of a Truman or an Eisenhower. Those two were political foes (somewhat reminiscent of today’s Washington, D.C.). But both contributed to the flourishing of the middle class.

Where are the leaders – and the followers – who will pick up the mantle of post-World War II optimism and build a better America for the 21st century?

So far, they are in hiding.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.