Recalling the spirit of sacrifice that made this nation great

Special to, May 27, 2019

By John McNabb

The following Memorial Day reflection, was originally published on May 28, 2018.

When I think about this day, I think about something of a rarity in our country today — sacrifice.

Joe Green at 19 flew bombing interdiction runs against German military in Nazi occupied France.

America today is all about “me”. The politicians and bureaucrats, celebrities, social justice warriors, identity politicians and media seem to be all about themselves … sound bites and TV “hits” with all of the above self aggrandizing themselves … social media with its anonymity and nastiness.

But virtually no sacrifice.

Sacrifice caused America to happen. Men and women who felt a greater cause than themselves. Men and women who had an unrelenting passion for their country.

My first cousin Joe Green walked out of an assembly at Stonewall Jackson High School in Charleston, West Virginia right after Pearl Harbor and joined the Army Air Corps flight training program.

At 17 years of age and not having graduated from high school, he left those mountains in West Virginia and ended up in hot and arid Vernon, Texas on the Red River. Not Siberia but just as different. He didn’t need a safe space like some of our youth today.

Joe Green’s generation, to me, was our Greatest Generation. He trained and then soloed in a PT-19 Fairchild monoplane at Victory Field Texas and then was ordered south to Foster Field in Victoria, Texas which is adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico for P-40 upgrade training and finally to the powerful and lethal P-47 “Thunderbolt”. His warbird. Then on to a boat across the Atlantic to his new home with the 8th Air Force in Southern England.

Now 19 years of age and flying bombing interdiction runs against German military in Nazi-occupied France. On the “Day of Days” Joe flew all day continuously attacking and then back to Land’s End for refueling and back over to Normandy on June 6, 1944. His warbird was named the “Mountaineer”. According to the records he was a terrific Flight Lead. I have a collection of his letters, thankfully.

He didn’t survive the War.

I don’t think anyone going into harm’s way thinks about sacrifice or dying. At least that was my experience. But many of our relatives over the past two centuries plus, have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Today isn’t Happy Memorial Day. For me it’s about sacrifice, remembering and being thankful for the many gifts the blood and sacrifice of others have made, for us to enjoy our lives and our families.

John T. McNabb is vice chairman of the American Leadership Council, co-founder of the Trump Leadership Council and former chairman and CEO of Willbros Group.

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