Tom Brokaw called us the "The Greatest Generation."

Tom Brokaw called us the "The Greatest Generation."

Most of us were born during the Roaring 20s after World War I, the war our fathers fought. We went to school during the Depression. Many of us have bitter memories of hard times. It was a time of turmoil in our country.

In the l940s, another war broke out, and this time we were the ones to fight and win it. After the war, we did see more revolutionary changes than any generation before us. From Model Ts and As to Corvettes; from just looking at the moon, we sent men to walk on it. From the atom bomb to nuclear energy. Airplanes became a mode of transportation; roads and trucks gave locomotives and trains competition to transport goods. Televisions are now in every home. Next came computers in business, then personal computers for individuals, and now they are in nearly every home and in all schools.

Children today are much more technically advanced than some of us are capable of understanding.

In the 1960s, we elected the first Catholic president only to have him assassinated. Civil rights unrest raised its ugly head and tore us apart.

We wanted our children to have everything we didn't have — opportunities for education and success. But our sons were drafted to fight a war we couldn't win in Vietnam. Instead of our boys being welcomed back home after a harrowing defeat, they were shunned. We went through more unrest in the '70s and sloughed through the '80s. The '90s brought a spurt of what we thought was progress but fizzled toward the end.

We were a world power. A new century loomed, and a new president sent our hopes up. Then disaster hit on Sept. 11, 2001. We were devastated. Had we become too complacent? Unaware of the unrest in parts of the world we had scant knowledge of? Rumors were rampant, and soon we declared war on a country and a people we knew very little about. For the first time, we were the aggressor.

Now our grandsons and granddaughters — as well as perhaps some of our great grandchildren — are serving in a country where our beliefs mean little and the fighting is like nothing any American has ever encountered before. We are still fighting that war 10 years after it began. The tragedy is not only in the wounded — physically and mentally — but in the young men and women who gave up their lives. Not to mention the loss of countless innocent lives on the other side. We don't know when it will really end or when all our soldiers can come home.

In the meantime, we elected our first black president and hoped we could close ranks for the best of our country. This we haven't been able to do.

The infrastructure of our nation, which we have neglected, needs shoring up, too. It's up to us, the people, to restore America to the greatness it is capable of. We can do it.

Are we still the "Greatest Generation?" I think that will be left up to history.

<I>Catherine Crandall lives in Medford.</I>