Letter from Jack Brodsky’s Dad to Jack on his birthday
Tuesday April 17, 1945
Today is your 21st birthday, Jackie. It is customary to say when a guy reaches 21, that “today you are a man”. That of course is not applicable in your case. You have attained manhood already. In the first of the world’s greatest holocaust, you have been called upon to do a man’s work when you first entered the Navy.
As I too grow 21 years older, I take pleasure in the fact that you and your brother have in the limited pleasures of your youth brought to Mother and me the deepest gratification that growing older can experience from two swell guys.
Your generation has inherited the making of a new world so badly bungled by mine. Upon you rests a tremendous and difficult responsibility. I hope you and your pals can measure up to the tasks.
We have handed you a civilization torn and rife with death fire and sword. Yours is to clean it up, make it a better life and give to your progeny a world of peace and happiness. You are now in that process of wiping out the world’s greatest monsters and cleaning the air of the stench of death and decay.
That is the best gift I can give you on you birthday. The job of constructing a better world. That is the highest gift within the purview of youth. Each generation has had to take up where the last left off. Sometimes it has been relatively easy, most of the time it has been difficult and bitter.
For that is the one fundamental law of life; STRUGGLE. Sometimes struggle is easy. But struggle it always is. I give to you the gift of the understanding of life, the knowledge that nothing is achieved without fighting for it. To know that is I believe the beginning of all wisdom.
To really love your fellow man when he seeks the road of happiness is also part of the science of life. To intensely hate the despoilers of humankind is the other side of the same complete whole.
I bestow upon you on you 21st birthday the legacy of America, born in strife, moulded in the crucible of the mixture of a hundred nationalities, and cast in the firmness of the ideals of justice and decency. Not always have the people of our country understood the best way of achieving these aims. But always has there been the fundamental of a striving toward this goal. Your generation must place higher the concepts of our country’s ideals. You and yours have a great trust. I know you fellows will do your individual and collective parts.
So while today these purposes find you in your respective fields of battle, tomorrow may find you in pursuit of the same ends in a game of ball, a school room, a lecture platform or listening to the strains of a soothing symphony. It is a many sided way of life, but it all adds up to your generation making its contribution to a better America and as a corollary a better world.
So congratulations on your 21st birthday. I am sure that the following years will make it easier to enjoy life that the last 21. Take counsel with yourself the first chance you get. Go back over the high points in your young life. Think of where you could have done better, or worse too. Add it all up, and then draw the balance.
It’s as simple as all that. Then kinda open up that new page, and without being too subjective, draw the conclusion that our generation need to be told a thing or two, and that yours will try and give us some of the know how.
So, on with life and struggle. On with tears and laughter. On with maturity and youth. Together we can make it a better world, a better life and a better future.
Congratulations again; and here’s hoping that on your 22nd birthday we will be sitting around the table all together with a new purpose, new problems but always higher and greater achievements in mind.