Gary Livacari & Peter Glessing: The children of the 60s

The passing of President Gerald Ford re-ignited the national dialogue over the greatest generation, the generation inspired by Pearl Harbor. Some say the horrors of Sept. 11 have similarly shaped Generation Y and will give us an honored place in history alongside our World War II grandparents.

But the political cynicism prevalent on GW’s campus and across our nation tells a different and more disturbing story. Like our parents in Vietnam, we have lost the will to fight, to make the sacrifices that are necessary to protect our country. We have substituted healthy patriotism and deep reverence for American traditions with petty protests and condemnations of our nation’s highest leaders.

In the name of “dissent” and “peaceful protest,” we continually undermine our national mission to defeat a deadly enemy, a practice that would have been wholly unthinkable amid World War II. The hippie culture may be dead, but the reflexive distrust of America lives on. We have become the misguided children of the 1960s.

Our grandfathers were heroic on the battlefields of Europe and Japan, but they achieved greatness because a united and mobilized home front stood unquestionably behind them. There were domestic debates concerning intervention in Europe, but once the firing began, America rallied behind President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the common goal of victory.

Our generation has been courageous in combat, but the home front has yet to wholeheartedly endorse America’s historic mission to transform the Middle East. Generation Y, which includes the GW student community, has denied the troops the steadfast support required for victory. Unless we vigorously defend the mission in Iraq, our country will again suffer a devastating defeat and its reputation will be irreparably damaged. We can’t let this happen.

With President Bush’s recent proposal to commit more than 20,000 new American troops to Baghdad, our generation has an opportunity to renew its devotion to winning the war on terror and earn its billing as the new greatest generation. The GW College Republicans will do its part to answer this critical calling.

We invite all students, regardless of party affiliation, to join us in visiting wounded American soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital this Friday night. While war is an understandable source of disagreement, we must transcend partisan divisions and facilitate broad-based support for the men and women of the armed forces.

Hospitalized veterans are often removed from their families and friends for extended periods of time. Visitations improve their spirits and allow them to temporarily escape the physical and mental pain of combat. Above all, the visits remind our servicemen and women – many our age and younger – that we value their sacrifices and will support them as they fight for victory in Iraq.

This weekend the College Republicans will honor young soldiers who, like our fathers in Vietnam, are engaged in an epic struggle between good and evil. As we perform this vital public service, we must also remember the history of a by-gone era. The Vietnam War enjoyed early popularity, but a radical youth movement eventually undermined America’s attempt to thwart the spread of global communism. The consequences were catastrophic: the humiliation of our nation and military, and the deaths of 1.7 million Indochinese citizens.

Thirty years later, we are still recovering from this disgraceful defeat. But our generation has a rare opportunity to rectify the sins of its fathers. If we stand by America and help the troops prevail in Iraq, we can replace the cynicism and disillusionment of the baby boomers with hope and a reinvigorated patriotism. We can defeat terrorism as well as the anti-Americanism that has plagued this country, and this campus, since the days of Vietnam. In the name of America’s fallen heroes – from the jungles of Asia to the deserts of the Middle East – please join us at Walter Reed Hospital and, together, let us confront this monumental challenge.

-Gary Livacari, a senior, is Chairman of the GW College Republicans.

-Peter Glessing, a junior, is Director of Public Relations for the GW College Republicans

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