“This is the first time I’ve been invited to speak to a group of people from the greatest generation,”
The author of Oh, Beautiful: An American Family in the 20th Century, Godges dedicated his family memoir to his parents “and to the worlds from which they came,” he said. “In honoring my parents, I also wish to honor their entire generation of Americans and specifically the civic spirit of the people of that generation who struggled through the Great Depression and World War II and afterward to make America stronger as a whole—not just for individual or personal gain but for the mutual benefit of the country as a whole.” He applauded the greatest generation for exemplifying how Americans can work together for the common good.
“I don’t want our country to lose its civic spirit, the sense that we’re all in it together,” Godges continued. “That’s one of the reasons why I wrote the book. As the story of at least my family illustrates, from one generation to the next, from immigration to assimilation and beyond, life in this country is just not as good or as meaningful without a vibrant community spirit. That is the key to the good life in America. And that, to me, is the greatest lesson of the greatest generation.”
Godges read two passages from his book, each offering a slice of community life in America as experienced by his parents in their youth or young adulthood. In the passages, Godges recounted his father's teenage life in the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1940s and his mother's exuberant young motherhood in a GI neighborhood of the 1950s and 1960s.
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Oh, Beautiful: An American Family in the 20th Century is a courageous family memoir that explores what it means to be American.