Guy Farmer: Paying tribute to the Greatest Generation

Although I’m not a big fan of President Trump (as you know), I thought he represented us quite well on his recent trip to England and France, and especially on the D-Day beaches of Normandy, where 10,000 young Americans died to defend freedom and defeat Nazi fascism. No wonder we honor those brave young soldiers and airmen as The Greatest Generation.

The left-leaning mainstream media, led by the New York Times and Washington Post, had kind words for the president and usually hostile TV networks transmitted poignant images as World War II veterans, almost all of them in their 90s, gathered at Normandy for the last time. Trump called them “among the greatest Americans who will ever live” and “the glory of the republic.” Amen! (p.s.: The Reno Gazette Journal buried the story on page A5).

Trump’s host, French President Emmanuel Macron, praised the American troops who went through “the hell of combat ... to free the villages of Normandy.” Following Trump’s friendly visit with the British royal family in London, the warm friendship between Macron and our president was evident during the moving Normandy ceremony, which bodes well for future relations between the U.S. and Europe.

Nevertheless, in ill-advised and untimely tweets, Trump called London Mayor Sadiq Khan “a stone-cold loser” and said former American TV actress Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, was “nasty” when she criticized him during the 2016 presidential election campaign; that was almost four years ago. While overseas, our president also engaged in a childish and inappropriate Twitter battle with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He just can’t help himself as his rude, nasty tweets undercut his real achievements. If I worked the White House I’d do everything possible to disable his Twitter account. Of course I’d be fired, but would probably receive some kind of a public service award.

During his European trip, Trump seemed to get along well with Queen Elizabeth and the royal family at a state dinner in his honor. The Queen said the U.S. and Great Britain are “nations working together to safeguard a hard-won peace” and toasted “the continued friendship between our two nations.” For his part, Trump praised Britain for “standing alone against the Nazi war machine” during World War II and toasted the “long, cherished and truly remarkable reign of her Majesty, the Queen.” From what I saw on TV, Trump and the Queen appeared to enjoy each other’s company even though the mainstream media looked for ways to downplay their obvious friendship. “Trump touched the Queen,” screamed one headline. So what?

The Greatest Generation is passing from the scene and we’ll miss them when they’re gone. I miss my late neighbor, Ray Ernst, who was a young B-17 pilot during the war. He didn’t talk much about being shot down behind enemy lines, telling me “I was only doing my duty.” Yes, that and much more. Ray was a great neighbor and a fine man who loved his country. I take this opportunity to thank him, his World War II comrades and all veterans for their courageous and selfless service to our nation and am pleased to report my 14-year-old twin grandsons placed flowers on graves at a suburban Seattle veterans’ cemetery on Memorial Day. I’m proud of them and their parents for recognizing Memorial Day is much more than “just another holiday.”

I also want to commend two of my Appeal colleagues, Ken Beaton and Steve Ranson, for keeping the memory of the Greatest Generation alive in Carson City and Northern Nevada with their inspiring stories and columns. Well done, gentlemen.

Guy W. Farmer, a retired diplomat, is also a U.S. Air Force veteran.


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