On June 6, global leaders gathered in the United Kingdom to commemorate the victory of Allied forces on D-Day 75 years ago. These heroes who risked their lives on the beaches of Normandy belong to what some have called the “Greatest Generation.” Magnanimity like theirs demonstrates that one cannot measure greatness by financial success or political securities.
Born into a culture of economic instability and global chaos, this generation never took their freedoms for granted. They teach us that freedom often comes at the cost of sacrifice. Today’s ambient culture, however, prizes a distorted version of freedom in its desire for unlimited extravagance and comfort. Terrestrial luxuries rarely, if ever, form a person in virtue. A saturated culture which values licentiousness over liberty is never far from its breaking point. As the ancient Romans learned apoplectically, decadence eventually leads to a culture’s demise. Americans must relearn the virtues of its nobler generations, who expected nothing and gave everything.
One would do well to heed the words of Pope Benedict XVI, who once told a group of young people, “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” May future generations heed the Pope Emeritus’s call and, having been inspired by its forefathers, dedicate their lives in pursuit of holiness and in service to their fellow man. There, they will find the greatness that true freedom affords.