The Greatest Generation

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The Greatest Generation
In 1984 Tom Brokaw was sent to France by the NBC Nightly News to make a documentary on the 40th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion. While interviewing hundreds of World War II veterans and their families Brokaw began to recognize common themes in the stories that these men and women told about their experiences before, during, and after the war. Brokaw was so impressed with their stories of personal sacrifice, courage, and humility that he decided to write a book about what he called “the greatest generation” in American history.
In 1998 he wrote The Greatest Generation. According to Brokaw, America owes a debt of gratitude to the generation of Americans that grew up during the Great Depression, fought World War II (either overseas or on the home front), returned to raise large families (the baby boom) and build America into an economic superpower. Many of these people were first or second generation Americans whose parents or grandparents had come to America in search of a better life. Brokaw emphasized a common set of values and ideals that were shared by them.
Number of people who served in the U.S, armed forces during WWII: 16,112,566

Number of surviving WWII veterans (as of September 2009): just over 2 million

Number of WWII veterans who die each day: approximately 850

Average age of WWII veterans (as of Sept. 2010): 87

Number of battle deaths: 291,557

Non-battle deaths: 113,842

Non-mortal wounds: 671,846

Medal of Honor winners: 464 (266 posthumously) (18 still living)

Your assignment is to read one of the profiles from the book and answer the following questions

  1. What was the person’s name?

  2. How and or why did they join the military?

  3. Where did they serve?

  4. Summarize one interesting story they told about their experiences in the war.

  5. What are some personality traits that this person has?

  6. Bullet point any other interesting or important points.

  7. What did the do with their life after the war?

  8. Ask your parents if there are any WWII veterans in your family. If there are, find out where they served and with which branch of the military. (This can be expanded into an oral history activity that will be counted for extra credit. Please check with me if you are interested.)

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