“When you talk about combat leadership under fire on the beach at Normandy, I don’t see how the credit can go to anyone other than the company-grade officers and senior NCOs who led the way. It is good to be reminded that there are such men, that there always have been, and always will be. We sometimes forget, I think, that you can manufacture weapons, and you can purchase ammunition, but you can’t buy valor and you can’t pull heroes off an assembly line.”
Sgt. John Ellery, 16th Infantry Regiment, U.S. 1st Division
Valor. Heroes. Men. Three words which described perfectly those who took the battle directly to Adolf Hitler and his troops on June 6, 1944. These men from my grandfather’s generation are some of my greatest heroes; because when they were called upon, they laid everything aside to defend our nation and its allies from the tyranny and oppression which was trying to take over the world.
Most of these men however did not consider themselves heroes but just ordinary men doing what men do; protecting their loved ones at whatever the cost. Many gave their lives in order to win this war and we are forever in their debt because of the sacrifices they made.
It has been seventy some years since the end of World War II and a lot of these men have now gone on to their graves. We are three generations away from this conflict which involved the entire world and look at the men of today. Now I know a lot of younger men may call me an old coot (I am 52 now) but what passes for men these days doesn’t even compare to men of my grandfather’s generation.
And before you vilify me or say I’m out of touch; I was considered a rebel at one time with my long hair, thoughts and ideas. My grandfather and I butted heads on more than one occasion about my ideas and hairstyle. But I’m not really talking about those things even though I think skinny jeans and man buns are ridiculous. What concerns me the most is what men used to be has slowly drifted away to be replaced with selfishness and men more concerned with getting their own needs satisfied.
I read somewhere that during World War II, many of the soldiers facing death were barely old enough to buy beer. Yet they joined the military because it was the right thing to do. Today’s males of the same age cry to social media when their feelings get hurt, and run looking for a safe place to hide. What has happened to men today?
Okay I realize I just made a general statement about the men of today, I do know some young men who are what men should be. Yet, if you were to take a casual glance at what passes for men these days, you would agree there are many more guys concerned with their social status, looks and getting what they want out of life than there are men willing to lay down their lives for their families and society at large.
My definition of a real man is one who is willing to lay down his life and who will put other’s needs before his own. It’s not glamorous and most of the time you won’t be in the spotlight but it’s what we as men were created to do. If we will rise to the occasion and put other’s needs before our own, we can make the world a better place, just like the men who fought in WWII did. We still need ordinary men taking their place and making a difference in lives, these are the guys who are the real heroes.