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Advice from the Greatest Generation

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Susie Stuart MDCurious, I asked a WWII veteran, “When did you know that you were going to win the war?” His smile faded and his eyes darkened, he looked back into his memory and after a few moments he answered, “It was a long time.”

I suppose 911 was the closest modern experience — lasting a few months before the feeling of direct danger became memory. What would it like to live under threat for years? to bend every day toward helping with an effort that meant liberty or enslavement; that risked loved ones; put life plans on hold, perhaps forever; that affected everything from socks to weddings?

The Greatest Generation looked to our Founders for inspiration and love of country. And they bent themselves to living lives of accomplishment.

Presented below is an excerpt from “Susie Stuart: Home Front Doctor.” It is the 1943 sequel to “Susie Stuart, M.D.,” whose cover I’m using because no photo of the dust jacket for “Home Front” is available. Stuart is a “hen medic,” meaning female doctor, and she is doing research on rheumatic fever in children as the war takes over the nation. In this excerpt, Susie scolds herself into courage.

“Susie’s thoughts were anything but cheerful. To be sure, she was terribly relieved and grateful that Peter had come through Pearl Harbor with only minor wounds. but whereas Susie was a person who had always believed firmly in the old adage, “Variety is the spice of life,” fundamentally she loathed change … So now, although she hadn’t the slightest notion of the kinds of change which war might bring, she was gloomily certain that they would not be pleasant. Right on the verge of a fit of depression, Susie suddenly came to herself.”

“… So you’re upset about the war and the future and what it will do to you … Swell way to win a war or stop wards or do a job or anything! You know perfectly well from past experience the only way you’ve ever been able to lick a crisis — remember? Face it, say ‘So what?’, forget it and knuckle down to the job of the moment. So come on, Stuart, pull yourself together and start concentrating on the job of the next moment, which is to get yourself home, bathed, and unpacked. After that, back to the grindstone and into the groove, my girl!”

That’s advice from the Greatest Generation.