It’s been said that America is the greatest country in the history of the world, and not just because of our innovations that changed how people live and work globally.
After all, Americans did invent the internet, the airplane, the telephone, global positioning system (GPS), the light bulb, and even the first bread slicing machine.
And names like Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Wilbur and Orville Wright and Henry Ford are forever memorialized as some of the most influential innovators the world has ever known.
But more than that, America is also known for raising a generation of selfless patriots who grew up during the Great Depression and served in the military during World War II.
And in many instances, teenage boys who were not yet 18 years old --- the required age to join the military, would lie about their ages just for a chance to serve their country.
Years later it would be revealed that these young warriors — some as young as 12 years old, were enlisting in the military so they could serve their country during wartime.
American journalist and news anchor Tom Brokaw even wrote a book about the era, referring to the young boys and young men who served in the war as the “greatest generation.”
In 1943, future baseball legend Yogi Berra, who had just signed a contract with the New York Yankees to play professional baseball, put his playing career on hold so he could enlist in the U.S. Navy and serve during World War II.
One year later, Berra and his shipmates were landing on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944 — a long way from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx in New York City.
Wounded by a bullet in Normandy, Berra would later be awarded the Purple Heart Medal — but only decades later and after his death because at the time of his injury, the future Yankees legend refused to fill out the paperwork for the medal because he didn’t want his mother to receive a telegram notifying her that her son had been injured in battle.
And filling out such paperwork would trigger a notification that would be sent to his worrying mother — so to spare her the heartache, he declined the deserved recognition.
During a speech the evening before the presidential election on Nov. 3, 1980, then-Gov. Ronald Reagan made reference to "The Greatest Generation," reflecting on the occasions when he and his wife Nancy met with men who were taken as prisoners during World War II — asking the audience,
"One night after such an evening had ended, I asked Nancy, where did we find such men? The answer came to me as quickly as I had asked the question. We found them where we've always found them. In our shops, on our farms, on our city streets, in our villages and towns."
America is also the most generous country — leading the world for decades in giving and volunteerism.
In the last 10 years, the World Giving Index has calculated that 72% of Americans help strangers in need and 42% volunteer.
In 2021, 60% of Americans donated money to a charitable cause.
And the average donation? $574.
In Illinois, Chicago-based Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, founded by New York Yankees first baseman and former Chicago Cubs World Series champion Anthony Rizzo —a cancer survivor, raises money for pediatric cancer research and supports families whose children are battling cancer.
During the holidays, the foundation also decorates homes with outdoor lights and decorations — an act that brings unspeakable joy to children who are battling cancer.
And this year, they have adopted 100 children and will be purchasing gifts and enlisting elves to wrap the presents and deliver them to the families so they can be placed under the tree in time for Christmas.
And the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana announced in September that they had raised a record $1 million in donations in 2023 from Chicagoland McDonald’s customers who donated a little extra when ordering a meal from the fast food restaurant.
The Ronald McDonald House provides care, support, meals and lodging for up to 177 families whose children are sick — allowing the families — free of charge, to be close to their child as they receive medical care from the local children's hospitals in Chicago and around the world.
In the book of Luke it states, "To whom much is given, much will be required," and each year many families go above and beyond — and oftentimes under the radar and out of public view and give generously to causes near and dear to their hearts.
For example, each year, Chicago-based philanthropists Rick and Alisa Heidner and their family host a fundraiser for the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation at their home in Illinois where they have both raised and donated millions for the foundation. The Heidner’s have also sponsored several families to go on a once in a lifetime trip to Disney World.
And just before this Thanksgiving, the Heidner’s hosted an annual tree lighting ceremony at The Arboretum of South Barrington — a popular shopping and dining destination in the western suburbs of Chicago that they own where over 4,000 people attended, including families and their children, free of charge.
"Santa and Mrs. Claus"; "Santa’s Elves"; Dr. Seuss's "The Grinch," and the associated character from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas,": "Cindy Lou Who."
"Anna"; "Elsa"; "Olaf and "Elf on the Shelf" also made appearances and posed for pictures with the awe-struck children.
Balloon artists, face painting and a live DJ playing holiday music entertained the thousands of guests who enjoyed a Winter Wonderland atmosphere complete with a custom-made Winter castle.
And this past Summer, the Heidner’s hosted a Chicago-based youth baseball team at the Field of Dreams baseball field, where they are owners and was made famous by the 1989 movie "Field of Dreams" starring Kevin Costner, for a game of little league baseball on the famous field.
In 2021, Elon Musk, one of the world’s richest men, directed his company Tesla to offer free supercharging stations during the holidays for customers during off-peak hours — a welcomed gift for Tesla owners driving to visit family and friends during the holiday season.
In 2022, Massachusetts businessman Rob Hale and his wife Karen announced that they were donating $1 million every week for the entire year to small, but impactful charities — organizations that were operating on a "wing and a prayer," and with "no financial certainty."
And just days before this Thanksgiving, Warren Buffett announced that he was donating $866 million of Berkshire Hathaway stock to four family charities.
In 2022, Buffett donated $759 million of the same stock to the family charities as he works towards his goal of giving away 99 percent of his wealth — estimated at $121 billion, to charity.
America is and will always be the most generous country in the world. And that generosity is more than financial.
For generations, Americans have also loaned their time and talents to serve a greater cause. And while some of those causes changed the world, all of those causes changed lives.
And we’re all better off because of it.
From 2007-2010, Mark Vargas served as a civilian in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, traveling to Baghdad, Iraq 14 times. Follow Mark on Twitter: @markavargas. Read Mark Vargas' Reports — Click Here Now.
© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.