The Next Greatest Generation

By: Phil Williams

Several seemingly unrelated events occurred in recent days that give me hope for tomorrow. Events that all 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.

In recent days I found some assurance.

In the first instance I spoke to a gathering of veterans on a Saturday morning at the Alabama Veterans Museum in downtown Athens. Veterans of all ages were there celebrating their service, standing for our national 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 of the younger generation. Not at all. The reaction was absolute agreement. An upheaval of emotion. America believes that the next generation is so vitally important.

That was encouraging moment number one.

The second was a recent performance on stage at the Grammys. Singer/songwriter Tracy Chapman came out of retirement and sang a duet of her hit song “Fast Car” with a much younger Luke Combs and took the nation by storm. It was one of those “just right” moments. Every note, 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 the loads, helping others, working as a team, and earning the right to wear the uniform. It was everything that should be in a recruiting commercial. 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.

Then the kicker occurred this past week at Cal Poly University in California. Conservative influencer Charlie Kirk held an event on the campus which drew hundreds of supporters but also drew the usual detractors. Refusing to be intimidated, the large crowd of college students began to sing 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 all right!…an incredible moment!” Incredible indeed.

That was encouraging moment number four.

I wish that we didn’t have to be reminded. I wish that it would just naturally be assumed the next generation has got this. Most of us who have 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 I do because we know that we’ve been a 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, and yet related. They brought the feeling you get when you know you have no choice but to trust the next person to do the job that 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 and the life we have chosen has prepared us for this. So we’re going to build bridges and hospitals in a day, rescue families from disasters, and feed those left in the cold. We will do all of 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.

By: Phil Williams