Echoes of Honor: Reflections on the Life of Bill Halbert and the Greatest Generation


It was called the “Greatest Generation” – an era of Americans venerated for their extraordinary and selfless contributions to the preservation of freedom and democracy during World War II. They were a variegated mosaic of ambitious young adults and idealistic youths just coming of age, couples who had commenced budding families and nascent businesses, factory workers and farmers, manufacturing tycoons and military professionals, and little children who sensed from worried parents that their world was in peril. When the evils of German Nazism, Italian fascism, and Japanese imperialism congealed into a cancerous global cabal, the lives, liberty, and future of all were at stake. Confronting such malevolence accordingly placed unimaginable demands on the courage and character of freedom-loving people everywhere. When victory was finally secured, questions arose as to how it was ever possible against such determined, experienced and well-equipped foes. Certain conspicuous possibilities emerged: exceptional leadership in key positions of the government and military; the nation’s collective fury converted to determination and industry after the outrage of Pearl Harbor; and perhaps even the interposition of Divine Providence. But what was the degree of contribution made by the individual American at home and abroad? Could there have been extraordinary traits possessed by ordinary citizens of this generation that rendered victory certain?

This work is based on the life of Bill Halbert, a U.S. Army Air Force bomber pilot assigned to the European Theatre of Operations when he was only a teenager. It explores and reveals the extraordinary attributes and actions of those citizens – before, during and after World War II – which distinguished that generation, and thereby rendered their country exceptional in its time.



Greatest Generation, World War II, leadership, Exceptionalism, Europe.