A boomer’s ode to the Greatest Generation

The Greatest Generation is fading fast. Our Boomer Generation will have to carry their torch. That’s what we like about this piece from Larry Checco of Silver Spring, Maryland. It puts into words what a lot of us feel.

My family recently suffered a milestone loss when Aunt Gloria, our last surviving aunt from the Greatest Generation, passed at the age of 94.

Larry Checco

One of my cousins, Michael Mollica, penned a tribute, not only to her, but to all of our beloved hard-working first-generation Italian relatives who died before Aunt Gloria. It’s an ode to what they meant to us, their children, and to each other.

It moved me so much, I thought I’d share it with other boomers who may be feeling the same sense of loss at this stage in our lives and who might need, as I did, some words to help express that loss:

Well, my dear cousins, we always knew we would get to this day. A day when that generation that defines us will be gone. No longer, in the present tense, do we have those to call Mom or Dad or Aunt or Uncle.

Thankfully though, what we do have are the cherished memories that they worked so selflessly to give to us.

To say that these memories were of joy and happiness would be true, but would also fall woefully short of remembering all that they’ve done.

Their life trials, of which there were many, were dealt with straight up. They never sheltered any of us from the heartaches that made them human.

At a young age we witnessed their sacrifices, we were taken by them to visit sick relatives, to mourn with them at wakes, and to have a front row seat to family discourse.

It wasn’t always clean, but it WAS always pure.

They got through all of their challenges because they believed that’s what you had to do.

Complaining didn’t seem to be an option, family was, and they relied on that support unapologetically and without ever having to ask for it.

They were always there for each other, without limits and without judgement.

They celebrated everything. I don’t mean life’s events, I mean life’s moments.

They never missed an opportunity to get together. Whether planned or spontaneous. It was a reason to break bread, laugh, share, and love.

Celebrating meant family and family meant love… the unconditional kind.

Which one of us didn’t feel as if he or she were their favorite? And in some unusual and honest way, we all were.

It reminds me of the line from one of my favorite hymns…. “All I ask is forever to remember me as loving you.”

All you had to do was observe how they went about living their lives and if you learned anything from it, yours would be enriched forever.

Our strength was their struggles.
Our integrity was their dignity.
Our goodness was their humility.
Our lives are their legacy.


  1. Thanks, Denver. I’ll be sure to pass your kind comment on to my cousin, Michael.

    Now that they’re all gone it’s left to our generation to carry the torch, on awesome, honorable–and nonnegotiable–responsibility. I hope our kids will think as highly of us.

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