My grandfather died yesterday. He was a bomber pilot in World War II, and was always proud of his role in defeating the greatest threats the world has faced in modern history. Today, Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke died, after serving a rather comfortable house arrest in Rome. As the last survivors of that war leave us, it is more important than ever that this generation remember what they did. Their presence has helped keep the memories alive, both of the atrocities and the courage in overcoming them. Without them, there is a real danger that vigilance and collective memory will fade, and the horrors of that period could return.
How do we avoid this? It’s simply a matter of discipline. Society needs to continue to make it a point to remember. Schools need to keep it on their curriculum, even if that does not fit standardized testing. Hollywood has done more to keep the memory alive than anyone, with films constantly being made, both true and fictional. Here in Louisiana, the National World War II Museum is an impressive effort to bring the entire war to its visitors.
When I was growing up, my grandfather, Jack Morrison, always made sure I knew what he fought for. I am going to make sure that lesson continues to pass down so that we truly never forget.