An island generation comes of age

We are an island generation, happy to enjoy the fruits of sacrifice without recognizing how they exist.

It was Veteran’s Day last week. If you missed it, don’t be surprised, considering the lack of acknowledgement from this editorial board and the rest of campus, for that matter. Most University students took the day as an anomaly, because banks were closed and mail wasn’t delivered.

When then-President Woodrow Wilson declared Veteran’s Day a holiday, he said it would “be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations Ö “

Veteran’s Day serves as a reminder of the sacrifices people have made for this country. But it is troublesome when the day itself is seemingly forgotten, especially among the youth who are most separated by time from the reality of the ultimate sacrifices.

We are an island generation. We are happy to enjoy the fruits of sacrifice without recognizing the reasons why they exist. We are censored by the media and the government from the horrors many of our generation are now facing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We, in turn, censor ourselves by refusing to read beyond headlines and by refusing to acknowledge that men and women are dying right now. Even these deaths become politicized by some groups across the political spectrum. Between respect and exploitation, there is the finest of lines but the greatest of importance.

In Iraq, our brothers, sisters and friends die. In the cemeteries of Arlington, Va., and Fort Snelling in St. Paul, rest the bodies of our forefathers and foremothers who had the same idealistic dreams of the United States. The only things that separate them from us are dirt, time and a lack of gratitude. The only things that separate us from Iraq are an ocean and recognition.

Our generation is a fortunate one. Even though we live in the “age of terrorism,” it is considerably less volatile than the Cold War era, the Great Depression and World War II. We must not take it for granted, and we can start by recognizing the faces woven into the fabric of the U.S. flag.

The upside is most individuals reading this are between the ages of 18 and 30. We have many years to improve on our lack of gravity, understanding and gratitude.