Editor's column

"Having just taken two weeks off, I had a lot of time to watch year-end wrap-ups on CNN. One that particularly caught my attention was an interview with four recent college grads who had the misfortune to lose their dotcom jobs due to the high tech market swoon. Several already had their MBAs, however, and none expressed fear that he or she would miss the next Accord payment or have to cancel their vacation plans. Their dismay came from the fact that their dotcoms folded before they could go public and create millions of dollars for everyone out of thin air. So goes tough times in the new millennium.It got me thinking about my dad, and what a different life he led. Raised on a farm, he had to quit school when hard times arrived. Eventually the farm was lost to the Depression so he rode west on the rails, sustained by a jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread. He found work on a farm near Marysville, saved his money, bought his parents a house, remodeled a garage into a house for his new wife, and settled down to enjoy a nice family life after all those years of scrimping and saving. But before the first baby was born World War II came calling, so, lugging a mortar around, he helped chase the Nazis from Africa to Italy to Austria and then into Germany, liberating Jews from concentration camps along the way. Eventually he returned home, was introduced to his 4-year-old daughter, and resumed his working life.More scrimping and saving followed and he bought five acres outside of town, complete with a dumpy house that he would fortify and remodel, turning it into the best imaginable place to raise four kids. There were horses, cows, chickens, and frogs in the swamp, which when it froze over became an ice rink. It was nice, but later his oldest son was drafted and died in Vietnam, then the state took his property and built a highway through it.But through it all, Depression, war, tragedy and disappointment, he always kept his sense of humor and a deep love for all kids and most adults. He was like thousands of Americans who today are in their 70s and 80s and 90s, who built great lives and a great society through hard work and patriotism, without ever asking for a handout or ever thinking that anyone owed them anything.My dad died last month and hundreds of thousands more of his generation are soon to follow. This all seems like ancient history to the young people of today, and they probably can't figure out what it has to do with their own futures. But one thing we know for sure is that America will be a much poorer society when all it has left is dotcom heroes. "

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