What legacy will we leave?

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Of the countless buzzwords to have been adopted by the masses in the 21st Century so far, few are used with such over earnest relish as the word ‘legacy’.

We are, it seems, legacy mad. The nation became obsessed with the word in the run-up to the London Olympics in 2012, when politicians banged on about the games being much more than a couple of incredible weeks during the summer.

We are also, quite rightly, very concerned about what sort of legacy we will leave future generations if we don’t get to grips with global warming, the increased demand for both food and land or the thorny issue of personal debt.

I am not sure whether or not it is my age, but I have been pondering the question of my own personal legacy quite a bit over the past year, during which time I have had to pen not one but two eulogies to two grand old men.

In the space of nine months, we said goodbye to my grandad, who passed away aged 95, and his brother, who made it to the mightily impressive 98. Last week, as I stood up before the congregation who had gathered to pay their final respects to my great uncle, a veteran of both Dunkirk and the Burma campaigns, I reflected upon not only the contribution that he had made to society, but what had been achieved by his generation.

My grandfather, although not a rich man, was fond of telling anyone who would listen that he had everything he had ever wanted – a millionaire in the true sense, as the old song goes. War veterans of my grandad’s vintage judged their lives not on what car they had on the drive or how many ‘friends’ they had on social media but by the love of their family and the ability to enjoy a pint now and again.

My grandad’s generation is fast dying out and, before we know it, will be gone forever. These people are walking documentaries, all with stories worth telling. Their legacy is clear: they delivered us from an unspeakable evil and selflessly worked to build a better country for their children and grandchildren.

The best way for us to honour that special generation is to think long and hard about the legacy that we will leave.