History was one of my worst subjects in school. I hated it with a passion and usually did just enough to pass. I have to admit; as I get older I have much more of an appreciation for history and now have a keen interest in it. Last night I finally went to see the movie Lincoln and I was embarrassed by the fact that I didn’t know a lot about the story. As a funeral director most of the history I have learned has come from listening to people who belong to “The Greatest Generation.” The Greatest Generation is a term coined by journalist Tom Brokaw to describe the generation who grew up in the United States during the deprivation of the Great Depression, and then went on to fight in World War II, as well as those whose productivity within the war’s home front made a decisive material contribution to the war effort.
I absolutely loved listening to the stories told by family members of a loved one who was a part of this great generation. The stories of how mom met dad during the war when she was a nurse and he was a G.I. The stories of how a family of ten somehow made ends meet with little or no money and how the children didn’t even know they were poor because they never knew what it was like to have money. And they were happy. Along with these stories are the pictures, actual photographs taken during this unique time in our history. Actually, the pictures are what spawn the stories.
Years ago you very rarely saw photographs at a visitation or a funeral. Today it is much different and in fact, not only do we have photos on display, but we also scan them to a DVD that plays during the visitation. This is included as part of our funeral package. The families enjoy them so much that they often purchase additional copies for each family member. That way you never have to take the collage board down, you can just pop in the DVD and watch it whenever you want. We also have made it easy for friends and family to see the pictures whenever they want as they can now be scanned into the Life Images section of the specific obituary on our website. You can also share stories and memories in the Life Stories and Memory Book section. To see examples, please visit our newly designed website at: http://www.wietingfuneralhome.com
I specifically talk about The Greatest Generation because these are the pictures and stories I have been most exposed to during my career. I also talk about it because I, like many of you, feel that this was a special time in our history. I may not have lived during this time, but hearing the stories and seeing the pictures certainly has contributed to my renewed interest in history. Sadly, The Greatest Generation like all generations before it, is slowly slipping away and it is up to us to preserve their history and keep telling their stories. If you haven’t had a chance to sit down and talk with someone who lived through the Depression Years, I urge you to take the time to do it. If you know mom or dad has pictures hidden away in the attic or sitting in a dusty photo album, urge them to get them out and tell their stories. Make an afternoon out of it and be sure to bring the grandchildren and great grandchildren. You will be glad you did and you might even hear a story or two you’ve never heard before. Now…..back to my history book.