I was reminded of that incident last week when I was discussing the war in Iraq with my friend, Barry Whitehead. We both agreed that this nation would be in serious trouble if we had to fight another war like World War II today. That brave generation of men who stormed the beaches of Normandy has been replaced by a generation of metrosexuals trying to get in touch with their feminine side. Even the body builders become emotionally unraveled when they think that someone might have scratched their plastic bumper.
I am reminded of the spinelessness of my generation almost every day. With every column that I write and every speech that I give, people react by telling me that I should be careful lest I lose my job or be labeled by vindictive liberals.
Every time I hear such admonitions, I think about my grandfather who spent his 19th birthday getting trench foot in a foxhole in France in World War I. When he was finally able to crawl out, he was hit with a piece of shrapnel from a German hand grenade, which became permanently lodged in his spine. I can still see him in his later years walking across the room in a walker as a result of that injury. Come to think of it, he looked a lot like the man I saw getting out of that Volvo.
My parents took me to see my grandfather many times when I was a child. I got to hear the same war stories on every visit, but they never got old. We all need to take the time to hear these stories from our aging war heroes before they are gone for good.
The next time I see a World War II veteran sitting alone at a table for two, I hope I remember to thank him for his courage and sacrifice. Our injured veterans shouldn?t be driving around town by themselves. Nor should they be eating alone on a beautiful summer day.
They should be telling us about the battles that they won. They should be reminding us of all we have to lose.