They’ve been called by some our “Greatest Generation.” The men and women of my parent’s generation laid the foundation for much of the economic and social stability that we enjoy today. Their hard work and sacrifice have allowed me, and the generation that followed, the opportunity to live happier, healthier lives. As the fall leaves turn and we reflect on our year, this is an especially good time to also reflect on the contributions this generation made to our country and to our world.
As we approach Veterans Day, I am honored to pay homage to our veterans and seniors. In fact, this idea has been on my mind since I saw a few beautiful and moving D-Day commemoration ceremonies this summer. These events marked 70 years since the Battle of Normandy, the largest of its kind in history, and seen by many historians as the turning point in the ground war in Europe.
Though successful, this came at an incredible price. Of the four million allied forces that landed during this campaign – over 300,000 of which were American – nearly 120,000 died. The bravery exhibited and their spirit of unity around a cause fueled their belief that freedom was the most important result of the war.
After the war, these men and women provided the economic backbone for the breakneck growth experienced by the United States in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s. They were great soldiers in battle abroad, and some of the greatest builders at home this country has ever seen.
Tom Brokow wrote a terrific book detailing their stories of struggle, perseverance, and triumph titled, “The Greatest Generation.” In traveling the country while collecting their accounts, he saw a generation that had a common purpose, and was united by shared values – service, duty, honor, and love for country.
As a country, we make an effort to show our respect for what they’ve done, and another to build a system in which every senior can look forward to a safe, comfortable, and respectable retirement. It is about making sure no senior goes hungry, forgoes critical health care or medicines, and ensures that none face the possibility of isolation and the resulting depression.
I am so very proud that a focus on seniors permeates all we do at Family Matters, because many of the seniors we serve are in fact veterans from the Great World Wars. Family Matters is there for our service men and women who have been there for us by offering an array of programs and services such as Mental/Behavioral Health counseling and low-interest car loans (Ways to Work). We also offer other groundbreaking programs like Connecting to Community (C2C) which uses technology to address senior isolation in an innovative way and Senior Works and RSVP, which sees value in the knowledge and experience seniors can give their communities through volunteer hours. We recently calculated that, based on just the minimum wage, DC received an economic benefit last year from RSVP/Senior Works of more than $1,000,000 USD. That is an incredible economic infusion to our community and one that should be celebrated.
This is a time for honoring the wisdom of our seniors and veterans and helping to provide for their needs. It is a time for valuing their intelligence and experience and helping them continue to contribute to society. If you have a senior or a veteran in your life or in your community, first tell them how much you appreciate what they’ve done for our country, and then support programs that ensure they are able to thrive in their golden years.
And – considering what they have given to get us here, it is the least we can do for them.
It gives me great pleasure to dedicate this issue to Service. On behalf of Family Matters of Greater Washington and all of those we serve, we thank you for your service.