Take time today to honor the ‘Greatest Generation’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 23, 2014

SALISBURY — On June 6, 1984, President Ronald Reagan gave a speech in France that some have ranked as one of the best of his political career. On that day, the 40th anniversary of the Invasion of Normandy, President Reagan gave tribute to the warriors who secured Pointe du Hoc.
Pointe du Hoc was a cliff that overlooked the Utah and Omaha beaches and had been fortified by the Germans with heavy guns. U.S. Army Rangers, after a dangerous beach landing and strenuous climbing under murderous fire, finally succeeded in securing the cliff. This amazing story is told in marvelous detail by Douglas Brinkley in his book, “The Boys of Pointe du Hoc.” Brinkley also shares some interesting background stories about Reagan’s speech. While Reagan commemorated a specific event in the invasion, some mark that speech as the beginning of a renewed appreciation for all World War II veterans.
Someone who covered Reagan’s visit to Normandy that year was NBC News anchorman Tom Brokaw. Impressed by the speech and inspired by the stories of aging veterans, Brokaw began documenting the experiences of the generation of Americas who survived the Great Depression and won the Second World War.
Brokaw’s book, “The Greatest Generation,” was published in 1998 and quickly became a bestseller. In the years that followed, Brokaw received a great number of appreciative letters from not only veterans, but their families, as well. It seemed that everyone wanted to share their experiences or tell the story of a loved one who never made it home.
Brokaw compiled several of these missives into another book called “The Greatest Generation Speaks,” in hopes that we could all share in appreciating their duty, honor and sacrifice. A third book, “An Album of Memories,” soon followed and it helped to tell even more stories of those who lived through the trying times of the 1930s and ’40s. This scrapbook of Americana contains not only fascinating stories, but also memorabilia and personal photographs that make those stories come alive.
In 2004, the National World War II Memorial was completed and officially dedicated. This memorial, set on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was built to salute American men and women who served and sacrificed in the armed forces and civilian population during that time period. Some have complained that it took the government too long to acknowledge the World War II generation and that a large segment of the population did not survive long enough to see it.
Because so many of that generation continue to die every day, a strong push has been made to get the surviving men and women to the memorial before it’s too late. The 2012 film, “Honor Flight,” documents the story of how one community came together to raise the funds to get its veterans to the memorial. I challenge anyone to watch that movie and make it through the entire show without tearing up.
If you’ve known a member of the Greatest Generation or are lucky enough to still have them around, take a moment today to appreciate their courage and sacrifice. If you happen to be a member of that generation, please accept my sincerest thank you. Stop by a branch of the Rowan Public Library to learn more about the members of the Greatest Generation.
Children’s Storytime: Weekly Story Time through May 2. For more information call 704-216-8234.
Toddler Time (18- to 35-month olds) — 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays, headquarters; 11 a.m. Mondays, East.
Baby Time (6- to 23-month olds) — 10 a.m. Wednesdays, headquarters; 10 a.m. Mondays, East.
Preschool Time (3- to 5-year-olds) — 10:30 a.m. Thursdays, headquarters; 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays, South; 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Thursdays, East.
Noodlehead (4- to 8-year-olds) — 4 p.m. Thursdays, headquarters; 4 p.m. Mondays, South.
Tiny Tumblers (6- to 35-month-olds) — Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30 a.m., South.
Children’s art programs: Learn different art techniques and start a new project; runs weekly during storytime. Art in the Afternoon, headquarters, Thursdays, 4:30 p.m.; Art Party, South, Wednesdays, 4 p.m.; Art with Char, East, Thursdays, 4 p.m.
Book Chats for children at South branch: Thursday, March 27, 4:15 p.m., “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,” grades 4-5. Children in grades 2-5 are invited to participate in Book Chats at South Rowan Regional Library in China Grove. Registration is required and space is limited. Call 704-216-7728 for more information.
Teen program: Mr. Penumbra’s Missing Book Scavenger Hunt, all 5:30-7 p.m. East, Monday; headquarters, Tuesday. Use iPods and other mobile devices to follow QR codes in search of the missing book. For middle and high school teens. For more information, call 704-216-8234.
Discussion: “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore,” East, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.; South, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.; headquarters, Thursday, March 27, 12:30 p.m., brown bag event, drinks and dessert provided; headquarters, March 31, 6:30 p.m. This program is part of the 411 Community Read with Cabarrus, Stanly, Davidson and Rowan counties. Visit www.rowanpubliclibrary.org or call 704-216-8829 for more information.
Going green workshop: South, Monday, 5:45-7:15. Explore the many ways to prepare spinach, kale and other greens with samples and recipes to take home. Led by executive chef Chris Herron and Director of Food & Nutrition Sara Lynch of Morrison Food Services. All ages welcome, but anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Door prizes. Participants who attend four out of five workshops will be entered to win grand prize. Registration is required. Visit www.rowanpubliclibrary.org or call 704-216-7734 to register, or for more information.
Altered book and rubber stamp crafts: South, March 29, 10 a.m. Make crafts out of recycled materials. Supplies will provided by the library at no charge to participants. Anyone under 13 must be accompanied by an adult. Call 704-216-7730 or visit www.rowanpubliclibrary.org for more information.
Displays for March: Headquarters, log cabins, North Hills Christian School; South, 2D and 3D art by China Grove Middle School; East, Rockwell Civitans.
Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.