His Heroes Should Be Ours As Well
They’re falling silent, one by one.
The voices of those who battled island-by-island across the Pacific, who dropped in broad daylight into enemy fire over Holland, who abandoned every personal plan and fond future hope to hear and answer their nation’s call in that vast war of the 1940s, are being stilled at the rate of a thousand and more a day.
One young man among us is taking on a mission for himself, but also for us and for those who come after us.
Pinecrest High School senior Nick Reed is collecting stories from those still here, seeking out one World War II veteran at a time to take down their memories. His is a painstaking, self-assigned labor of respect, honor and gratitude.
What a remarkable thing it is to see, and how refreshing it is to be reminded, that not all teens are as self-centered, peer-driven and fashion-conscious as they sometimes seem to the rest of us — that not all their heroes are drawn from the world of sports, TV, movies and the Web.
Reed reminds us there is another side of youth, an idealism that has ever been a beacon of hope to older generations. The stories he collects from men and women now in their 80s and 90s are, let us realize, stories from youth of another time.
If they are tales of terror, courage, adventure and derring-do, they are also life-lessons that those old young people have for us — lessons Reed is making sure we’ll hear. Young men and women who stood in the breach against the forces of fascism and imperialism — and endured, and prevailed — inspired him.
He inspires us.
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