Even a morsel of escapist fluff like the original Ocean’s Eleven (1960) is underpinned with disillusionment: the gang assembled for the big heist are old 82nd Airborne buddies turned amoral and cynical by their war experiences.
(I wonder if Sinatra and company were inspired by the real life Hell’s Angels, who — legend has it – grew out of post-war veterans’ motorcycle clubs, like The Pissed Off Bastards of Bloomington.)
All this to say: Did the “Greatest Generation” concept do more harm than good?
Does the honor we’ve been taught to accord the Greatest Generation keep us from having painful but urgent conversations about entitlements like Medicare and Social Security?
And what about the cohort itself?
Obviously there were many veterans simply too modest to discuss their bravery, even after Tom Brokaw made it socially acceptable.
But others were scarred by the previously inconceivabile sights at Omaha Beach and Auschwitz.
Others were embarrassed by what they perceived as their own moral weaknesses while trying to survive in surreal circumstances, far from home.