My Connection to the Greatest Generation
I’m going away for a few days. A family funeral is scheduled for Saturday. Harold Eugene “Barney” Kuhn was killed 74-years-ago at war against the Japanese.
He enlisted out of high school in Western New York State. He died halfway around the globe.
There are few members of my family with any memory of the man. My aunt was six-years-old when he went off to war. A DNA sample identified his remains this summer. I’d grown up hearing hushed stories about him, but in recent days have been doing quite a bit of reading about Uncle Barney. He was tall and fun loving and was a crewman on a B-24. It was dropping leaflets when it crashed into a mountainside in Port Moresby, New Guinea. The plane was armed with bombs and an explosion and fire scattered remains of the crew.
Obviously, I never knew the man. But as this day draws closer, I find it quite an emotional experience. Yesterday, I was working around the house when it struck me how much the world has changed in three-quarters of a century and not always for the better. He grew up in the Great Depression and we’re surrounded by gadgets and I’m not sure we’re happier than he was during his brief life.
There is one thing I’m sure about. The way we live today would’ve been far worse without the Herculean efforts performed by his generation. He enlisted out of high school in Western New York State. He died halfway around the globe. His efforts and the efforts of millions of others saved us from the darkness of totalitarian regimes. Sometimes we’re called to fight. In the words of Churchill, war doesn’t wait until you’re ready.
I’ll have more to say when I’m scheduled to return to work next week.