Monuments from a Generation of WarriorsIt is so sad to see...


January 01, 1995

Monuments from a Generation of Warriors

It is so sad to see the old men who have returned to the battlefields of Normandy and Bastogne this year. It is sad because television has shown us how, despite their proud bearing and magnificent accomplishment, they are all such old gray men. It is painful to see them age, and to know so many of them have died, because what they accomplished in their generation -- not just on the battlefield, but equally in the long years of peace -- will probably never be accomplished by another generation again. They were giants.

Perhaps it isn't fair to say "were" yet. There are still some with us, than God, although they remind me now of the grizzled veterans of the Great War that I recall from my youth. It is sad how their generation, which I recall as virile once, has replaced the prior generation in crumpled old uniforms marching behind flags with too few stars. Or, unable to march, driven about in "period" vehicles.

Yet so many have died. My wife and I look back and count too many in our own close circle -- my father, her father, one of my uncles, all of hers. One of her uncles could have been in the muster at Bastogne, if only he had attained the age.

They were the generation who remade the world, who had no fear but fear itself. Their generation cleansed the Old World of two murderous fascists, then rebuilt it from its own largess. Their generation gave us unemployment insurance, welfare, Social Security.

Their monuments are all about us: They changed America from a quiet rural country into the greatest and most influential -- and usually the most ethical -- world power ever seen. They weren't perfect. They were much too slow to shed the racism they were bred to believe in, and they were quick to find Communist bogeymen when told to find them.

But they also broke the shackles of expectation by educating, not just their sons, but their daughters, so that gender should not be a bar to desire or achievement.

How can I compare my generation's accomplishments to theirs? The essence of my generation is this -- that it began with certain lordly stated principles which it quickly sold out to the attainment of petty affluence. And its battle cry is that there is no cause worth for, unless it affects the price of gasoline.

And then there is the latest masterpiece of my generation -- we shall improve upon that welfare system which the prior generation gave us by substituting it with orphanages.

It has become painfully obvious that generation is fading away, not just by watching old men in Bastogne, but by reviewing the record of our accomplishments as a nation.

Only 31 percent of Americans alive in 1990 were alive 50 years ago. The democratic process being what it is, small wonder their voices are getting more and more quiet as they pass away.

I hope when we need them again, like old Germanic warriors, they will come back.

John A. Reiner

Bel Air

The Issue in Rape

Richard Hertz (letter to the editor, Dec. 18) seems to think that the woman in the Gillette case consented to sexual relations, then changed her mind and charged an innocent man with rape.

The facts of the case show that the woman, under the legal drinking age of 21, was served enough liquor while partying with the defendant (an older man whom she knew and trusted) that she passed out unconscious in the defendant's home.

She woke up to find him in the midst of sexual intercourse with her and she fell back into unconsciousness. This was not consensual sex, as it is impossible for an unconscious person to consent to anything.

These were the facts of the case and Mr. Gillette was found guilty of rape by a jury trial. None of this is in dispute.

The public outrage was created when Judge Thomas Bollinger gave this man probation before judgment, which means he serves no time for his crime and will not have a criminal record.

Judge Bollinger also made comments demeaning to women (something about an unconscious woman being like an unattended purse on a park bench).

Mr. Hertz says the law makes a man responsible for a woman's irresponsible behavior. The woman's behavior was not on trial.

It was the man's behavior, specifically having sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent and against her will, that was on trial and he was found guilty.

Mr. Hertz claims that 50 percent of reported rapes are dropped before trial. He thinks this is because women are trying to "get even with some man" or looking for "the prospect of a large settlement."

It's because of such attitudes that women are afraid of going public in court with crimes of rape.

It seems that even in the 1990s women are still not to be believed and continue to be blamed for crimes committed against them by man.

Mr. Hertz is grateful that "these women are in the extreme minority and good women are in the vast majority."

I say it is time for good men to speak out against men who rape unconscious women as well as those who defend this type of behavior.

Amy Donohue


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