Monday, March 23, 2009

Grandfathers and Grandsons.

At Training Ground, we are a few weeks away from application deadlines for our summer class. This is always a fascinating time to receive the applications, and listen to young men's stories from their application. It is one of the most enjoyable, and humbling things for me.

There is an essay question at the end, where we ask the applicant to interview their grandfather (when possible) and ask what it was like when they were (grandsons age) what jobs did they have, what was life like, school, family, etc.

It is one of the most beautiful moments for me to sit, and read the interaction. Many of the young men say, they were suprised at the conversation, and had no idea about their grandfathers life. While my grandparents passed away too early for me to really sit in their story, I was given the chance to interview a few men from Easy Company a few years ago. And my buddy, Jesse and I, sat in a hotel in Monterey for hours as they recalled their experiences. I couldn't believe they were sharing, all their sacrifice, courage, it was like sitting with kings. and yet, it hit me as we left, that maybe no one ever asked, maybe no one every took the time to hear their stories.

There is something beautifully authentic in the words they write about their grandfathers. hearing them learn about their life of hardship, of war, selected war service, and making 75 cents an hour. living in a house with 12 kids with 800 square feet, or walking to school for miles.

I think what I so enjoy, is the thought that these great men, the greatest generation, for even an hour, hear the call of their grandson who wants to know about their life. while the young men apply for many reasons, what I hear in their stories is I want an experience like my grandfather, I wanted to be tested. I want to know who I am. and have experiences that teach me.

I am at loss for words for understanding how far just three generations live. we are so different. so many different experiences. I imagine that no three generations in the history of this earth have changed so quickly and drastically. I can barely relate or conceive of what they have been through. but I love, that even for a few young men, they can honor both their need, and desire, and connect it to their grandfather, and honor the life he led, and many of the sacrifices he made for his family, and his country.

I think about how many old men are out there, who had so much to offer this generation, but how little we ever ask, or believe it is relevant today. these men are dying, and many of their stories are too. as I look at the past 50 years of culture America has created of success, and with many years of little sacrifice or suffering, I wonder what these grand men have in their life we could learn from. while I dont wish a depression, or another great war, I pray peace on earth. there is something that suffering and hardship that seems the only thing that really teaches a man.