I know, I know, I've written more than a fair amount lately about the Greatest Generation.
One reason is because I see so little today coming close to that generation's accomplishments, such as the GI Bill, which is arguably our country's greatest investment, right up there with the Louisiana and Alaska Purchases.
It's also because, even though I'm no historian, I do know something about the Greatest Generation: I was raised by it. I grew up in that atmosphere of concern for country and the common good.
The adults of that era had known the hard realities of the Great Depression and World War II. They were practical realists, not ideologues. With unemployment over three times ours, they knew the unemployed could not be categorized and dismissed as lazy.
Those who fought the war overseas and on the home front knew that it takes all types of people in a common effort to defeat global tyranny.
And after the war, the country really pulled together. There wasn't the profiteering, the profit without production and job creation that we have today, with wealth being redistributed upward into the top one percent. There wasn't talk of no tax increases or of no taxes at all.
Those in the top bracket stepped forward and paid taxes at 90 percent for 20 years. Actually the highest rate was 94 percent, and there was one year when it dipped into the 80s.
War debts were paid off. Other countries were helped to get back on their economic feet. The freeway system was built. And, as mentioned in last column, the middle class was created, thanks in large part to the GI Bill. The investment in vets was paid back many times over.
My wife's uncle Ted was a good example of the many returning soldiers who earned professional degrees on the GI Bill. He got his engineering degree from Stout Institute (now University of Wisconsin-Stout) and moved out to Seattle to work for Boeing.
He and his fellow 32nd Division Wisconsin National Guardsmen got together every five years until he was one of the last survivors and travel was too difficult.
Their exploits are chronicled in James Campbell's 2007 book, "The Ghost Mountain Boys" in what he called "the most grueling mission of the entire Pacific campaign," marching 130 miles over rugged mountains to push the Japanese back and then take the village of Buna on New Guinea's north coast.
The struggle for Buna was described in the December 28, 1942 Time magazine: "Nowhere in the world today are American soldiers engaged in fighting so desperate, so merciless, so bitter, or so bloody."
The 32nd "Red Arrow" Division was poorly equipped, from clothing to weaponry, and was hastily and inadequately prepared for the assigned task. Yet they succeeded despite many casualties.
That "Red Arrow" was part of my growing up in the Badger State. Every summer many convoys of jeeps and trucks, displaying prominent red arrows, streamed to and from Camp McCoy. Highway 32 was also labeled with red arrows. And the first piece of music I remember playing as a youngster in the Hillsboro City Band was, yes, The 32nd Division March.
(James Lein is a community columnist for The Minot Daily News)