OUR OPINION: Veterans from WWII inspire us still today

October 4, 2018

America’s future as a functioning republic doesn’t rest on whether Brett Kavanaugh is or is not confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, as some seem to believe. No, our country will not collapse in the wake of this decision, regardless of which way the decision goes.

We do not diminish any single aspect of or the overall consequential weight of the Kavanaugh decision. We simply suggest a sense of perspective. As a country, we have persevered through much deeper challenges than the poisoned politics plaguing us today.

Just ask Dick Cole.

In a recent story from The Associated Press in The Journal, we read about Cole and his service to our country at a time when the fate of America - and, indeed, the world - truly did hang in the balance.

Through the story, we learned Cole is the lone survivor of the legendary “Doolittle Raid” when Jimmy Doolittle led a squadron of 16 planes and 80 men on a bombing mission in April 1942 over Tokyo and other targets in Japan. Launched from an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean, the raid inflicted negligible damage on Japan, but it served as an important boost in morale for an America reeling from the devastating Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor four months before.

At 103, Cole remains active, attending Raid-related events and recounting stories from World War II at air shows. At the time the AP story was written, Cole was preparing to attend an air show in Hillsboro, Oregon.

A heroic figure with a remarkable personal story from an extraordinary chapter in America’s history, Cole is nothing less than a national treasure.

As the inexorable march of time pushes the veterans of WWII deeper into the past, our nation rapidly ... sadly ... is losing their irreplaceable firsthand accounts of that momentous time of fear and uncertainty here and across the globe. Of more than 16 million Americans who served in WWII, less than half a million survive today; some 360 WWII vets die every day.

Reading the story about Cole reminded us of the responsibility we share as Americans to embrace our living veterans from WWII and to recognize and honor them at every opportunity.

And in doing so, perhaps we will draw inspiration from them and their unparalleled accomplishments for whatever collective battles, including political, we wage today.

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