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Thursday, March 22, 2012

1940s: Greatest Generation

Paul Combs, center arms crossed,
Round House, Washington, Indiana
The Greatest Generation” was a term coined by journalist Tom Brokaw for his book by the same name.  It was fitting to give this name to that generation of people.  They grew up during the depression, came of age in the midst of a savage World War, and advanced this country to a level few thought was possible.  The struggles, triumphs, and defeats they would experience during the 1940’s shaped the world we live in today.

Those that have read my blog from the beginning know that I am extremely proud of my grandparents and their sacrifices during this time period.  I have talked extensively about my Grandfather Arvin, who was a POW, and his wife who worked during the war at a Bendix plant.  I don’t know if I will find him on the 1940 US Census or not.  By 1941 he was already in the Philippians, but I am anxious to see if he had already left or was still working as a filling station attendant in Wayne, Michigan.

My Grandfather Combs did not fight in the war, even though he did volunteer.  He was in an essential industry and worked as a track foreman for the B&O railroad.  The recruiter said they would take him, but he would get the same job, for less pay, and it would be more beneficial for him and his country to stay home.  His wife volunteered around their community and raised their young children.

Sometimes I hear people say we have it hard now, but it really is not any different than what my grandparents faced.  Our fears are generally the same; we just have different labels on them.  How many people do you know are growing gardens?  How many people do you know are collecting coupons and rationing out expensive goods to their house?  How many people do you know have been affected by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?  How many... 

We could take a page out of that generation’s notebook, and learn a lot about ourselves while we are at it.  How similar do you think we are to that Greatest Generation, and how will our children and grandchild see us?
The 1940 US Census Community Project needs you! Consider volunteering to index and spread the word.  Records will be released in 11 days!

*Image from the Library of Congress: Grow it yourself Plan a farm garden now.

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