During World War II, no entertainer logged more miles entertaining the troops than rubber-faced comedian Joe E. Brown. In 1944, he wrote "Your Kids and Mine," a small book he described as a "report card" to parents on how their kids were doing overseas. Here's an excerpt:
A funny word kept popping into my head when I looked at 'em -- up there in Alaska; out in the swampy Pacific islands; in Africa and China and Italy. It's a work I guess I never used out loud in my life. The word is "noble." I've thought of it sometimes when I was talking to a freckle-faced farmboy, to a big rangy Texan or a skinny little guy from the Bronx who assassinated the English language every time he opened one corner of his mouth to speak it. Noble
I've seen your boys, all kinds. I don't pretend they're all perfect. You'd know I was lying if I tried to. But this is what I want to tell you: your kids are better than you know. Better than we had any right to expect. I've heard them in hospitals, with their right arms gone, say, "Well, Joe, they've made a southpaw of me, darned if they didn't."
Noble's the word, all right, but if you accused them of it, which of course you wouldn't, any more than I would, they'd say, "What the hell's noble about it? It's our job, isn't it?" Sure it's their job, and they're doing it. And it's our job to understand them, and to thank God for them, and to try to deserve what they're doing.
I've never heard it said any better: Try to deserve what they're doing. Try to deserve what they've done.