You’re thirty thousand feet above the ground flying over Germany, it’s bone chilling cold, there is no heat, as you await what’s coming. All you can hear is the four engines roaring, when suddenly over your headset comes, “fighters at 3 o’clock.” Fifty caliber bullets, the size of a cigar come ripping through the fuselage all around you. You attempt to focus on a small dark object flying toward you at 300 miles per hour, and zero in on it with your own fifty caliber machine gun. You have your cross-hairs on a German Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter plane, and are hammering away with your fifty-cal. Before you can take him out, you hear a scream from behind you. Your buddy on the other side of the plane, who’s firing at another fighter on his side of the plane, is hit by a bullet. In horror you realize that half his right arm has been shot off, he’s quickly bleeding to death. You must turn back to your own target before he shoots your B-17 bomber down, and all on board die. You are only 20 years old.

This scene of fear and horror played out thousands of times in WWII, in the air, on the ground and on the ocean, hundreds of thousands of American airmen, seamen and soldiers lost their lives. Many who survived, lost limbs, eyes and their hearing. Those were the fortunate ones.

One of those great heroes, is my dear friend Irving Locker, who today is 94 years young. Irving was drafted into the Army right out of high school, just a kid from New Jersey. He ended up being positioned on a 90MM AAA-gun. These Triple-A guns were basically like small telephone poles on wheels. They required a team of 14 soldiers per gun to mobilize, set and fire. They could fire 25 rounds per minute. They shot a three foot, 45-pound-shell 30,000 feet into the air at German planes, could take out a German tank in a single shot, or German artillery up to 6 miles away. Upon training on these big-guns for months, Irving was sent to Britain. Now a Staff Sgt in the 116th AAA Gun Battalion, Irving was sent to fight in the one of the most monumental battles in World War II, D-Day/Battle of the Bulge.

As Irving describes it, he was in his late teens when he and his fellow soldiers landed on Utah Beach. Greeted by a hailstorm of machine gun fire, mortar shells and heavy armament, the door of the landing craft opened and they jumped into the water. Many of them were dropped too soon and as they stepped off the boat, they sank to the bottom and drowned. Irving describes how every soldier had a 47-pound backpack, a 3-pound helmet, several hand grenades and extra ammunition around your waste. It was impossible to swim. Having come in on the second and third wave of men, “there were dead soldiers everywhere, many floating in the water.” Through God’s good grace, Irving and his men all made it in alive. They were so well trained, once accompanied with there AAA guns, they could set all four of them up in three minutes and begin firing. I am blessed and honored to know this man personally.

Be it on the ground, the air or the ocean, these men were heroes. Hundreds of thousands of them gave the ultimate sacrifice to save our allies in Europe from a fascist dictator/murderer, Adolf Hitler. Why? Values, that’s why. The values which most Americans lived by back then were many, and most were tied into Christian family values. Such as Respect, honesty, community, faith, freedom, integrity, humility, kindness, honor, discipline, compassion, accountability, fidelity and love of God and neighbors.

By and large, most Americans lived by The Ten Commandments. As we hit the 1960’s, things began to change. The Communist Socialists, disguised as Democrats began taking God out of our society.

The 3rd Commandment, “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath Day.” They took this away with the Blue Laws in the seventies, check.

The 4th Commandment, “Honor thy father and mother.” By the nineties, kids had learned they could just call 911 on their parents if they didn’t like the way they were disciplining them, check.

The 5th Commandment, “Thou shall not kill.” Murder rates in our cities are ten times higher today than back then. We have mass shootings and kids playing horrid video games, that teach them human life has little value, check.

There are many values which led to “The Greatest Generation” being what, and who they were. Not the least of all, was hard work. Our youth back then grew up with an uncompromising work ethic. They knew if they wanted something, they’d have to work hard to get it. Nothing was free or handed to them. Respect for other people was natural, even if they disagreed with your opinion or point of view. And respect for a sitting, dutifully elected president would never have been questioned. Sadly, that was yesteryear, when our American Christian/family values were worth fighting for.

Without values, we are lost as a nation. The most important value of all is freedom. Freedom from oppression, not freedom from responsibilities. What the “Greatest Generation” should have taught us, but has been lost in much of today’s society, is that freedom isn’t free. A lesson which has diminished over the decades and is no longer taught in our schools.

If we don’t educate the youth of today to the importance of this single value⏤generations to come will be far from the greatest when the next tyrannical regime decides to put their focus on America. By then it may be too late.