05/30/2008 10:31 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

What The Greatest Generation Can Teach Us

Gasoline and food rationing, domestic production mandates, a military draft! Sounds like a totalitarian nightmare, but it stopped global fascism. As we face our own global environmental crisis, what lessons can we learn from pre-war Americans?

My wedding ring belonged to my husband's grandmother, and I love to hear about the times she lived through. Recently, I got to know that history a little better through a museum exhibit showing information provided to Americans battling international fascism during WWII.

Lines like "conservation or concentration camps, the choice is yours..." really jumped out at me. "Conservation" was patriotic? Tom Brokaw's "Greatest Generation" knew that winning meant: they had to make some adjustments. They conserved, invested in war bonds, and joined the armed services.

In the current "oil war on terror", our patriotic duty to conserve, or do anything to reduce climate change is ignored. Instead, we're asked to consume more for a stronger economy.

Our grandparents left us a legacy and a lesson: to succeed against huge odds, requires a huge effort made by the contributions of free citizens. Conserve energy, invest in clean technologies, and join the efforts to make positive environmental change for all. Conserve, Invest, and Join - that was grandma's recipe for victory, and it hasn't changed.

Today, it's our turn. Talk to the elderly people in your community to learn what they did when the challenge was at their door. Are you up to it?