it was, sadly, my parents generation (the so called Greatest Generation) who began this slip slide into ideological relativism.
I never did care for this “Greatest Generation” mythology. They were just people, and the ones I have known who were adults during “the war” would be the first to tell you that. Among them were as many cowards, traitors, adulterers, careerists and good-for-nothings as any other generation. US military prisons were packed to capacity with malingerers and AWOLs during the war, and I read somewhere that the corrections system in England was nearly overwhelmed with GIs in the months prior to D-Day, ordinary guys who got to thinking that maybe this business of going over to get killed had not been so smart after all.
And after the war, if you approach history as I do, as a collection of biographies having nothing to do with statistics and trends and ideologies, a cursory look at the literature of the time as written by veterans will show that their wartime experiences had been just as beset with inept leadership, stupid decision-making, needless sacrifice of life, rank slaughter of innocents, as the history of any other war. Not to mention the catastrophically abusive homes that much of the Baby Boom grew up in, the rise in divorces, the new concept of upward mobility-by-relocation known then as “The Mobile Society” lending itself to a dissolution of communities and extended families, the rampant alcoholism and drug abuse and all the other symptoms of post-traumatic stress lived by a generation still calling it “combat fatigue”, etc, etc…
As for leadership, the wartime generation had as long a free ride in running the country and its institutions as the Baby Boom that doesn’t want to finally go away has had, and in many respects did just as piss-poor a job of it.
I don’t see that it does anyone any good, and certainly does not honor the memory of the fallen nor the service of those who survived, to put them up on some larger-than-life pedestal owing to nothing but the circumstances of history which they had little to do with setting in motion, or to the fact that like any other generation they did the best they could (and many of them, the worst) to get by, just like any other group of people made relevant to history by its timing.
Overall, I’d have to agree and even go on to say that four or more decades of the guidance and ideas of the wartime generation after the war may have been one of the most destructive and irrecoverable periods in our history as a nation. I certainly don’t see how this “Greatest Generation” can make any over-arching claim of having left the country in better shape than they found it. Not by a long shot.
Vietnam pretty much blew that myth right out of the water, among MANY other utterly stupid and horribly misguided things that generation oversaw.