By David Rohde
The opinions expressed are his own.
In a speech last week at the American Legion convention in Minneapolis, President Obama rightly hailed what he called “the 9/11 generation,” the five million Americans who served in the military over the last decade.
“They’re a generation of innovators,” he declared. “And they’ve changed the way America fights and wins at wars.”
The following day, at a ceremony marking his retirement from the military, Gen. David Petraeus affirmed Tom Brokaw’s similar praise as the two men toured Iraq in 2003.
“He shouted to me over the noise of a helicopter before heading back to Baghdad: ‘Surely, General, this is America’s new greatest generation'," Petraeus recalled. “I agreed with him then, and I agree with him now.”
I agree as well. There is a kernel of truth – and hope – in both statements. There is a 9/11 generation, one that extends beyond the valiant military members both men correctly hailed. Instead, it includes all Americans who experienced the attacks and responded to them over the last decade.