For the last week or so I have been bugging my wife about a book that I am reading. Barb usually finds a way to shift the conversation, a skill honed during 20+ years of marriage.
Like any good reader, I grab onto a nugget and, well, it can get a little boring talking to me after a while.
The book is Timothy Egan’s "The Worst Hard Time." It is about the 1930's Dust Bowl and what it did to the land and the people.
I found the book fascinating for the historical context, but exponentially more fascinating for how the people dealt with this calamity, arguably the worst natural disaster in the history of this country.
Egan wrote about the concept of "tomorrow people," a concept new to me.
They are not a tribe or a secret sect, but people whose thinking simply looks to the future, whatever it holds. "Tomorrow people" are inherently optimistic and believe that given a fair shake, they can accomplish most anything.
So, when faced with an earth that would stay in one place, they hunkered down and planned for the next day, week, month or year. In the middle of the worst hard time, they were still thinking of the next crop or the condition of their cattle.
The generation that lived through the 1930s, and those born during that time, were often "tomorrow people;" what else could you point to that would explain their lives.
These men and women lived through the worst hard times, fought in a war that they didn’t start, came home, started a family and carried on. Then, just to make things more interesting, many fought in the Korean Conflict that followed WWII.
I was reminded this week of the resilience and forward vision of this group by the final toast of the Doolittle Raiders.
In the dark hours and days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. Naval commanders concocted an idea to take the war directly to the Japanese by bombing Tokyo. Lt. Colonel James Doolittle was put in charge of this daring attack.
The idea was less military strategy than a moral boost for a nation that was still jittery, with much of the east and west coasts on blackout alerts.
Seventy-one years after that April 18, 1942 raid on Japan, the remaining Doolittle Raiders met at the National Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio for one final toast to those who flew that mission, those that have passed on and the one member that couldn’t make it. Three men in their 90's now look back on a life well lived and great service to their country. Hope was a precious commodity in those early days of the war, and only a "tomorrow man" could show the way.
One final note: this past week the School Town of Highland mourned the passing of school board member Larry Vassar. If ever there was a man who always had a smile and a large group of friends, it would be Vassar.
Larry was born and raised during the last years of The Depression and endured the many trials and tribulations of his generation. He retained a very optimistic outlook, even when things didn’t go his way. Like many in his age group, he simply rolled his sleeves up and went back to work.