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The next greatest generation

Several seemingly unrelated events occurred in recent days giving me hope for tomorrow – events that swirl together in my mind with the message that there is another great generation out there in America with every bit of the heart needed to carry the torch forward and preserve who we are as a people. 

If we’re honest, every one of us worries about that sometimes. Will the next generation care for what we built? Will the next generation be willing to sacrifice to preserve our way of life? Will the next generation care about the history, the traditions, the values, the liberties that established the United States of America in the same way that the generations before them did? 

These are not unreasonable questions, and in recent days I found some assurance. 

I spoke to a gathering of veterans at the Alabama Veterans Museum in Athens, Ala. Veterans of all ages were there celebrating their service, standing for the anthem, and loving their country. A room full of servants and patriots – the salt of the earth. I related the view that we need a military that is so empowering, so inspiring, and so positive in its presence, that the next generation will know that they want to be a part of it too. There was no disdain for the younger generation. Not at all. The reaction was absolute agreement. An upheaval of emotion. America believes the next generation is so vitally important. 

That was an encouraging moment number one. 

Then came a recent stage performance at the Grammy’s. Singer/songwriter Tracy Chapman came out of retirement and sang a duet of her hit song “Fast Car” with a much younger Luke Combs. They took the nation by storm. It was one of those “just right” moments. Every note and every lyric was spot on. Not a single person felt the need to say, “Well, she’s black,” or, “Well, he’s white,” … or lifestyle this, or politics that. They just sang and it hit all the right notes. It was magical and seemed to move us away from cultural tensions. It was as if today’s generation and the generation before were bridging some cultural gaps together. 

That was encouraging moment number two. 

Then there was a National Guard recruiting commercial called “The Next Greatest Generation is Now.” Wow! In a series of action sequences, the ad showed young men and women stepping up to become warriors. It was a series of visuals filled with young Americans doing the hard things, slogging through the mud, carrying loads, helping others, working as a team, and earning the right to wear the uniform. It was everything that a recruiting commercial should be. Even more moving was learning the soldiers and airmen were not actors. They were the real deal. Young troopers who were proud of their nation, their service, and their effort. 

That was encouraging moment number three. 

The kicker occurred this past week at Cal Poly University in California. Conservative influencer Charlie Kirk held an event on the campus drawing hundreds of supporters, along with the usual detractors. Refusing to be intimidated, the large crowd of college students began singing an impromptu rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Video shows a crowd of laughing, cheering, young patriots spontaneously singing their national anthem. Kirk posted the video saying, “The kids are alright! ... An incredible moment!” Incredible indeed. 

That was encouraging moment number four. 

I wish we didn’t have to be reminded. I wish it would just naturally be assumed the next generation has got this. Most of us with some years behind us have a sense of ownership and a pride of authorship. We desire for the USA to be here for another 250 years. We feel like this because we know we’ve been part of building something great. We just want to know that the greatness of America, the joy of living here, the pride in being a God-blessed great nation, is something that won’t stop when our time is up. 

And then I saw those four great moments. Unrelated, yet related. They brought the feeling you get when you have no choice but to trust the next person to do the job you’ve always done. Then you watch them do it … and it actually works. 

The voiceover from the National Guard recruiting ad stated: 

We’ve come of age in a complex world, face to face with problems we didn’t create. So what’s going to happen next? We are. Because our future is the future. The life we have chosen has prepared us for this. So we’re going to build bridges and hospitals in a day. We’re gonna save families from disasters, and feed those left in the cold. We’re going to do all this and more because we have an appointment with destiny… The next greatest generation is now.

I agree. I believe that the next greatest generation is now. It has to be. We need it to be. 

You men and women of the next generation … you guys have got this.

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