By Hunter Scott, World War II Veterans Committee’s National Youth Representative

A few years ago I came across free, one-year subscriptions to Esquire Magazine and Sports Illustrated on the internet. Though I read Sports Illustrated cover-to-cover and only occasionally glanced at Esquire, I did find a regular section that typically caught my interest, if not more for the humor than for the actual learning experience. That section was called “What I’ve learned” and it featured insights, humorous anecdotes and life experiences from a variety of celebrities and political figures.

Dan Rather told Esquire that, “The press is a watchdog. Not an attack dog. Not a lapdog. A watchdog. Now, a watchdog can’t be right all the time. He doesn’t bark only when he sees or smells something that’s dangerous. A good watchdog barks at things that are suspicious.”

B.B. King said, “Some people say that blues singers are always cryin’ in their beer. But you know what? I don’t drink.”

And Hugh Hefner gloated that his best pick-up line is, “My name is Hugh Hefner.”

Though I am only 20 years old and have yet to encounter many of life’s greatest experiences, I would still like to share a little bit of what I’ve learned over the years. Mostly, I would like to share my experiences with regards to youth and war, America and veterans, patriotism and the general attitude of young people towards World War II.

Freedom is a treasure so valued that men and women are willing to give their lives in its pursuit. This I have learned.

As my junior year at the University of North Carolina is winding down, I have had some time to reflect on a few trends I have seen amongst my peers. The atmosphere on campus today seems to focus on promoting open-mindedness, a heart for humanities and diversity. Though there might be nothing wrong with these issues, as we should all have a cause that puts the grit in our teeth, I can say as someone in tune to campus events that, with the exception of an ROTC-sponsored Veterans Day Ceremony, there have been no publicized events dedicated to America’s troops, veterans or World War II. Why is this? What are college students thinking about? Don’t they know that the time to honor our WWII heroes is drawing to a bittersweet end?

I would like to think so. But everyday thoughts and activities on campus lead me to believe this is not the case. I am saddened by this, too. Seven years of my life I spent working to honor the final crew of the USS Indianapolis. This was my mission. This was my calling and my quest to try and repay the cost that so many paid in pursuit of my freedom.

I have seen first hand what it means to be a hero. I have seen, first hand, what it means to sacrifice everything in the pursuit of an idea—an idea so powerful that 50 stars and 13 stripes can unite a nation. Every college student should hear the life story of a man who survived four days with no food and no water in a shark-infested Pacific and no rescue party to look for him. That would change a student’s life, as it changed mine.

“Bringing the legacy of the Greatest Generation to the latest generation” is the World War II Veterans Committee’s motto. I have been with the organization for four years now and I am still excited to see the efforts made to preserve veterans’ stories and share them with today’s youth. And thank goodness for America, the trend I’ve seen on college campuses seems to be contained to college campuses.