Today, the second Sunday of August, is National Spirit of 45 Day. We could get into a whole political debate about the Greatest Generation and what made them so great. One thing is certain, there is much to admire in those who are the Greatest Generation – the G.I. Generation. Just as my generation, the Baby Boomers, are those born between 1946 and 1964, the Greatest Generation are defined at those born between 1901 and 1927.
Their generation possesses a nearly unshakable sense of duty, of sacrifice and patriotism. Born in the excess of the 1920s, they came of age during the Great Depression, went on to fight in World War II, stepped up to rebuild Europe and Japan, and endured the uncertainty of the Cold War. Theirs was a generation who believed in hard work, the American Dream, a better life not only for themselves, but for others. On average, the Greatest Generation gave and continues to give more to charities and religious institutions than any other generation. Putting others ahead of themselves is just in their nature. A lesson worth learning. A life worth respecting.
Their achievements from 1941 to 1945 remains unprecedented. Before World War II, the United States maintained an army that was smaller than that of Portugal. Yet America finished the conflict with a global navy larger than the rest of the world combined. Personal sacrifice was understood both at home and on the front lines. Rarely did you hear someone ask “what’s in it for me?” It wasn’t a “me” driven culture. Community and patriotic pride was everything.
Work ethic mattered. And understandably so, since work was not an option. There were no handouts or bailouts or options beyond a job. Everyone worked to survive both personally and as a country. Families contributed to one another. Older children helped with the younger ones or worked side by side with their parents. With that came a deep sense of pride. They need not ask “what’s in it for me” because that feeling of a job well done was reward enough. The Greatest Generation stood tall.
Society as a whole of the Greatest Generation held itself to a higher moral standard. Words like commitment meant something. Not only was your word your bond, which it was, personal responsibility and family obligations were strong characteristics. Life was different. People were different. Values were different. The fabric of society revolved around faith and family.
The generations which followed have much to learn from the Greatest Generation. While we have made great strides in Civil Rights since then, and we enjoy a world filled with amazing technological advancement, there is something to be said about a firm handshake, to look someone in the eye, to firmly understand right from wrong. These are values that begin at the dinner table, be it at home or within the community.
Another lesson from the Greatest Generation is the art of stretching the food dollar. With soaring prices that sweeping across the country now, we could learn a thing or two about pinching pennies. This old-fashion meatloaf is a great example of serving up a satisfying supper without breaking the bank. Here’s to the Spirit of ’45!
1-1/2 lbs Ground Beef
1 cup Tomato Juice
3/4 cups Old-fashioned Oats, uncooked
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1/4 White Onion, chopped
Ketchup as desired
Curly Parsley Garnish
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine ground beef, tomato juice, and oats. Season with salt and pepper. set aside
In a small bowl, lightly beat an egg, pour over the meat mixture.
Peel and finely dice onion, add to the meat. With hands, gently work egg and onions into the meatloaf. Press into a meatloaf pan.
Bake for 1 hour to medium doneness and no longer pink in the center. Juices should run clear. Let stand for 5 minutes. Invert loaf onto a cutting board, invert again onto a serving platter so meatloaf is right-side-up. Glaze with ketchup, garnish with parsley. Slice and serve.