“I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free
And I won’t forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me
And I’d gladly stand up next to you
And defend her still today
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt
I love this land
God Bless the U.S.A.”
Ever since 9/11, “God Bless the U.S.A” is the song that we hear often in September, but we don’t hear much about patriotic books. I proudly introduce my readers to a new book that glorifies patriotism: Richard C. Rocha’s “Child of the Greatest Generation.”
Born on Jan. 20, 1942, Rocha’s very start in life coincided with America’s involvement in World War II. The country had just gone to war with Japan after its attack on Pearl Harbor the previous month. Rocha grew up as a child whose parents formed “The Greatest Generation,” as Tom Brokaw called them.
As a group, this generation persevered through the difficult times brought on by economic stress and war. The result was a generation that knew how to withstand hardship. They favored personal responsibility, had a strong work ethic, practiced frugality, had integrity, and were very patriotic.
Rocha writes about his earliest days as a child of this generation and how he came to understand what patriotism means to him. The meaning became tangible whenever Rocha came across a painting or photo that depicted the history of the United States—he would sit down and write a story to go with it.
Pictures can often reach a part of us that is difficult to access through words. The pictures Rocha collected are not sophisticated glossies; but rather, they are no-frill images found on the internet royalty-free or able to be purchased through iStock, Getty Images, or Shutterstock. The idea of using patriotic pictures readily available to the public was very appealing to Rocha.
Over time, Rocha built a collection of these pictures and pieces. His book includes 13 pictures, each with an accompanying original poem or story. (That number is significant because of the original 13 colonies.)
Finally, his family told him to share his work with others, and eventually his book—a book museum of America—came into being. He has the same goal as museum or art gallery curators who develop ways in which objects, archives, and artworks can be interpreted.
But these entries are mixed with the memories of his entire life. At 17, Rocha enlisted in the United States Navy, and after returning to civilian life, he worked for the defense industry. The company’s two biggest contracts were for the Navy and Air Force.
The project all started when he saw a picture of an American bald eagle perched on what appears to be a headstone in a cemetery. Prodded by his very strong reaction to the image, his imagination led him to wonder what the eagle, if it could speak, would have to say about the nation today. At that moment, Rocha decided to write his very first story. The image is still his favorite picture in the collection.
I love the soft tone of the book that comes from the sincerity of this gentle man who truly loves his country and is not afraid to express his feelings. How wonderful to discover a book that emphasizes America’s greatness rather than its faults. As Bill Clinton said in his first inaugural address in 1993, “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”
Reading Rocha’s book will nourish your own patriotism. At a time of deep social division, when the American Dream is under constant attack, his book will remind you of this majestic idea.
As Rocha wrote me in an email, “May you always feel the wind of freedom and the warmth of the torch of liberty.” That patriotic phrase says it all about the man and the book.
‘Child of the Greatest Generation’
Richard C. Rocha
Christian Faith Publishing, Inc.
Linda Wiegenfeld is a retired teacher with 45 years’ experience teaching children. She can be reached for comments or suggestions at LWiegenfeld@aol.com