One day there was a man walking down the street, and at a glance he looked liked abeggar. His clothes were torn and ragged and his hair disheveled. As he passed a large building twenty stories high he suddenly stopped and sought entry. The doorman was startled when the man began to proceed through the door and gasped, “You can’t come in here!” The man looked up and suddenly the doorman was surprised. He quickly opened the door and the let the beggar in.
At a glance, this man was a beggar, but when the doorman peered into his face he noticed the reflection of the building’s owner. So, too, at a glance, the generation of the 21st century may seem disheveled. With hair every which way and clothes tattered and torn in accordance with the latest fads, it is easy to stereotype them. However, this generation is different. This generation has a plan.
The plan is simple. In order to make its mark, the X generation plans to make a difference. They will be different by serving in ever increasing numbers in a war that politicians seek to mire in political turmoil—in a war that the popular media denounces and where moms and dads beg their children not to go.
At a glance, no one would expect this generation to serve selflessly in a country so far from home. No one expected the X generation full of punk rockers, gangsters, and an ever increasing immigrant population to lay down their lives so quickly in a war where only the bad things are reported. Sadly, there are those in the media that refer to this generation as mercenaries. They say that the highest reenlistments rates in the history of our volunteer army is only due to big reenlistment bonuses.
But no matter what others say, there are so many of this generation that refuse to take their freedom for granted. This generation somehow sees through the materialism of this world and appreciates the natural rights of man, the right to be free. This generation, at a glance, looks no different. However, this generation will own this century. Not only will this generation go and fight, but it will do so voluntarily like no other generation before. No drafts will be necessary and no campaign posters by “Uncle Sam” will be required.
Somehow this generation knows and appreciates the simple truths of humanity. It knows that evil will abound unless good stands it ground. It knows that no price is too high, and no sacrifice is too great to pay for the freedom of an entire nation of people. Unfortunately, there are too many still hanging around who have never known the absence of freedom. As a result, they think that freedom does not include responsibility and sacrifice—that they can exist in a free society and not have some responsibility or to make some sacrifice in return.
At a glance, their claims of “Vietnam”-like quagmire seem applicable. But this generation knows the difference. Having everything, this generation realizes that wealth means nothing in contrast to doing something that could have some eternal benefit. Great wealth and national pride mean nothing if a nation of people can stand by idly while those around them are bound by the chains of totalitarianism.
This generation has been to Iraq on multiple tours and not just to Baghdad’s green zone, the area to which politicians limit themselves. This generation has been to Ramadi, Samarra, and elsewhere. We have been there, and they are not afraid to go back. How do I know?
At a glance, I may just be another student, another of the X generation. However, I have been to Iraq and have seen my friends, my comrades, and my translators die, but not in vain. When I left, Iraqis had internet and satellite access, not state run television. When I left, Iraqi students had new schools and new textbooks that no longer had lies about Saddam Hussein in them. They had new hospitals and a greater average income than ever before, and I left over two years ago. I cannot imagine how much more we have accomplished since then.
At a glance, we were just the X generation. However, we are so much more. This generation will own this century. Not by dressing or playing the part, but by good old-fashioned self-sacrifice. We will give all that we have, every last drop of blood, sweat, and toil, as Winston Churchill once said, and we will succeed. Rest assured, we are so much more than what can be seen “At a Glance.”
Paul Kunnas is a senior from Mansfield, Ohio, majoring in Psychology.