The term The Greatest Generation was popularized by the title of a 1998 book by American journalist Tom Brokaw. In the book, Brokaw profiled American members of this generation who came of age during the Great Depression and went on to fight in World War II, as well as those who contributed to the war effort on the home front. Brokaw wrote that these men and women fought not for fame or recognition, but because it was the "right thing to do."
I have had the honor of interviewing numerous members of this generation, pilots who bravely served in World War Two. Many people are not aware that casualties in the war were higher among aircrews than among Marines.
The people who served during World War II were from a different generation, at a time when patriotism was the order of the day and national service was expected and respected. Major movie stars put their careers on hold to serve their country. Athletes like Ted Williams continued to serve in Korea.
Today, the environment is different. There is no longer a draft. Military service is totally voluntary. As a result, only 1 percent of Americans new serve in the military.
I believe that the military members of today are truly the greatest generation. A perfect example of this is Pat Tilman, who gave up his four million dollar salary to serve his country.
I recently worked with a retired Marine pilot who had served two years in Iraq and five years in Afghanistan.