Recognizing the 9/11 generation

The new issue of the Weekly Standard features three cover stories, each of which warrants your attention: “The 9/11 generation,” by Dean Barnett, “Tough Americans,” by Michael Fumento, and Bill Kristol’s editorial, “They don’t really support the troops.”
Each of these pieces is thought-provoking and powerful. I want to draw special attention to Dean Barnett’s article. It takes up a subject which has been much on my mind — Dean has the perspicacity to see it and give it a name — as we’ve corresponded with such stellar representatives of the 9/11 generation as Pete Hegseth, Eric Egland, and Tom Cotton (the last of whom apppears in Dean’s article).
When we originally wrote about Tom Cotton on Power Line, we were barraged with accussations from left-wingers that he was a fabrication. Dean finds not only that Tom Cotton exists, but that he is representative of a generational rebellion against the Baby Boomers who failed to answer the phone when history called. It’s a terrific article.
I have met so many outstanding men of my generation who answered the call that I wonder about the fairness of Dean’s contrast between the Baby Boomers and the 9/11 generation. I think, for example, of friends and acquaintances of my generation such as attorneys Tim Kelly and Larry Purdy in Minneapolis and the thousands of others who served bravely as volunteers, draftees, and commissioned and noncommissioned officers in Vietnam.
My guess is that many of those whom Dean identifies as the 9/11 generation are the children of the subset of the Baby Boomer cohort that never identified with the adversary culture to begin with. In The Nightingale’s Song, Robert Timberg makes a compelling argument that a continuing divide separates those who served from those who did not. Rick Atkinson’s outstanding portrait of the West Point class of 1966, The Long Gray Line, provides evidence that tends to support Timberg’s thesis.
Dean himself comments on his article and the other Standard cover features here. Whatever the case with respect to the thesis of Dean’s article, the article can stimulate debate and thought as well as deserved recognition of the unquestionable heroes of a new generation on whom our future depends.


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