Allen’s Greatest Generation
Renown journalist Tom Brokaw dubbed the term “The Greatest Generation” for the group of Americans who grew up surviving the Great Depression, then either went on to fight in World War II or keep the family alive back home. This past weekend, I was able to share a day with what I would call Allen’s “Greatest Generation.”
Many of the men with whom I spent time served in either the Korean or Vietnam wars. Other alums, some of whom were unable to make the meeting, and others who had made the ultimate sacrifice, were remembered fondly by their classmates.
In talking with them, all having graduated from different decades, their love for the school was palpable. Many donned old Allen t-shirts. Others sported military jackets, hats, or had military pins affixed to their clothing. Others still wore rings; Aggie rings, AMA rings, or rings from a branch of service. For all of them, the school was their home for anywhere from two to six years. In many cases, the teachers and coaches were like fathers to them. The women who worked at the school in various capacities like their mothers. And while there were plenty of stories about boys being boys, pulling pranks on each other, chasing girls, and the like, their story is one our students need to hear.
Amid the reflection and tears, however, there was also laughter – lots of it. The conversations ranged from important relationships with friends and teachers/coaches/mentors, to famous misdeeds of the past, to the time since graduation from Allen. In the end, the weekend was a tribute to a storied school that has produced incredible people.
In every case, regardless of where these boys started or finished in their class rank, each of them learned through determination. The lessons they learned about life, about discipline, about perseverance amid struggle, and about having opportunities they would not have had otherwise were shared with me repeatedly. As I made my way from pockets of people to the next, from table to table, the stories all had common thread. This place was about people, relationships, and experiences.
While the military era of the school ended more than 30 years ago, the ethos of our school not changed. These days, girls make up nearly half the population of our student body and the school offers education for grades PK1 through 6th grade – another change. Still, what Allen aspires to be and the values it hopes to espouse has not.
It was an honor and privilege to spend time with these men. I have the deepest respect for what they have done both for our country and for our school. I also hope that we can make them proud each day in representing the values upon which our school was built. Thank you, gentlemen and thank you also to the wives and incredible women who supported them along their journey.