According to The National World War II Museum veterans from that era are dying at a rate of about 600 per day. Of the 16 million who served in World War II, only 1.2 million remain. Last week, we lost a great veteran and servant of the Lord, and it reminded me how many stories from the past are lost to the next generation.
Albert Mohler, author of The Conviction to Lead, makes the point in his book how leaders or those who wish to influence need to get involved with social networking. Many of the older generation trivialize or put down blogs, twitter and Facebook. Many have stories, wisdom, and truth to share with a lost generation, but fail to use the tools available. The next generation perhaps should reach out and entertain friendships with the older generation, but a friendship takes the efforts of two; sadly, the next generation isn’t doing a whole lot of reaching out.
At a Young Republicans meeting, a person close to my age asked how we can influence the next generation. The answer is in front of us and so obvious: social networking, understanding, and mentorship. Obama has been using this image-driven society to propel his agenda. His supporters use story-telling to convince the next generation of the untruths. A little cut and paste of a news report can be manipulated to deceive using emotionally-charged words rather than logic. Getting your stories out online can fight this and teach the next generation to see the bigger picture. When my friend passed away last week, I thought of the many times I tried to ask him to sit down with me to tell his story. Understandably, it’s painful. He was in Stalag, a German prisoner of war camp for three years.
Lt. Colonel William C. Hoffman said in an interview in 1948 of his treatment in Stalag 4:
“The camp was opened about April 1944 and was an Air Force Camp. It was located at Gross Tychow about two miles from the Kiefheide railroad station. In the summer of 1944 the Russian offensive threatened Stalag Luft #6, 50 approximately 1000 Americans were placed on a ship for evacuation to Stalag Luft #4. Upon arrival at the railroad station, certain groups were forced to run the two miles to Stalag Luft #4 at the points of bayonets. Those who dropped behind were either bayoneted or were bitten on the legs by police dogs.”
My friend suffered the internship of Stalag 4. His faith survived. He served at our church until shortly before his passing. Every Monday he would tap on the window separating my office from another room. I would poke my head up and he would grin. His idea of a walk was circling the copy machine with his walker. The man always wore a smile and retained his sense of humor even through Parkinson Disease. These stories of our older generation will be lost if we do not reach out or if they do not reach out and share their wisdom, their faith, and their convictions.
Albert Mohler also said in The Conviction to Lead, “Without the passing on of foundational beliefs, intact and in living color, those convictions will soon be eclipsed.” Like some of our universities and institutions that were founded on solid Biblical truths, it’s current leaders do not hold those same convictions and these same institutions are no longer considered Christian. The Founding Father’s beliefs are becoming lost as progressives re-teach our past in the minds of our young. How can we reach the next generation?
The digital world is here. Young people need to hear your stories. They won’t hear it unless you venture into the unknown waters of social networking, befriend them, talk to them, and care. Enlist someone to help you if physical or mental issues make it difficult. The Bible was passed down from generation to generation oratorically before the written word. We, too, have the tools to pass down our stories, our faith, and convictions in spite of what the other side continues to do to our children.
Before another veteran or grandparent is lost, let’s unwrap their stories and learn from their strengths and their weaknesses. 1.2 million World War II veterans remain and we are losing our country fast as other, not-so-great influences take our young people’s attention. False knowledge fills their minds as history becomes eclipsed by video games and frivolity. Our history is a warning, enabling us to see what’s up ahead—genocide, abortion, divorce, wars, dictatorships and their policies, weapons registration and confiscation. It is my prayer the divide between young and old grows more narrow as we find ways to communicate with each other and tell our stories, and finally, share our faith in a God that is bigger than the evil of the world.
How can you help an older person go digital? How can us bloggers help to encourage this and the next generation to listen?