I asked Laura Hillenbrand about this much-chronicled generation. What does she think shaped it? "What struck me about these people," she begins, "is they had all gone through the Depression ... and while that was very difficult, it was like they were being forged in fire. I think the men and women who came out of the Depression were made of sterner stuff than people are today. And it made them capable of getting through what they had to get through in the war. It gave them a sense of purpose; it gave them fortitude; it gave them an ability to endure. I think that may be the biggest difference between that generation and now. We have had it easier. We have expectations we will be given certain things and things will come without sacrifice. That generation didn't have that."
What would Hillenbrand say this Memorial Day to those who have lost loved ones in war? "I think the sacrifices that are made by fighting men and women are among the greatest you can make in your life. This is an extraordinarily meaningful way to spend your life, whether you survive or not. Some of the most beautifully liberating things in our history have been done by fighting men and women. I hope there is some condolence for those who have lost someone that their loved one was lost in the service of something so grand as what the military stands for."
"Unbroken" has spent 10 weeks at number one and is currently number seven on the New York Times Best Sellers List. It deserves to be in every American home and Louis' story should be in every American heart.