What I’ll say here applies mostly to America’s Baby Boomers, born right after World War II, late 1945, all the way to 1964 (advertising demographers say). That would make the oldest of us 75 (I was born December, 1945) and the youngest, 55-56. And yes, it was Madison Avenue who came up with the name, because of all that pent-up…well you know…when all those troops shipped home in ’45. When he’d had a couple my dad said I was born 9 months to the day after he stepped up onto the porch, home from Italy. It really was a baby boom, not to mention an economic boom. And theirs was the last generation to pump out, on average, from 3-4 children, rather than the paltry 1.88 of today. (We’ve been below 2 children per household since 1978, but I did my part; 2, 1970 and 1974.)
Boomers made up the Vietnam War generation, but which put far fewer Americans in uniform than our parents in WWII. In 1942-45, no matter how small the town, every street had sons in the war. In Vietnam, it was more likely every town. Today it’s likely that many counties, even rural ones, don’t have a single veteran, although a cousin three-states away may have enlisted.
Still, wars getting smaller is a good thing, only, as we talk about from time to time at VeteransTales.org, there is also something lost that once upon a time didn’t require a patriotic war to be passed onto our children. In the 1900-1920’s, when immigrants poured ashore, “the people” still ran public schools locally, and they insisted that that certain patriotic notions be taught, and quickly, in part to speed the process of “becoming American” among those immigrants. The numbers of first-generation Italians that served alongside my Dad in North Africa, Sicily and Italy was all the proof they needed. Veterans simply know more, only today there are far fewer to spread around, and to my mind, are far too under-utilized in keeping the flame alive.
I was a dad of high-schoolers in the 1980s, the same 80s that gave us both Christine Blaisey-Ford and Bret Kavanaugh, who may or may not have been children of WWII vets, but they were both from affluent households. And they turned out almost opposite, one amoral the other moral. That had an impact on me, since so did my sons; only both raised in the church, Sunday School and required reading at home. The eldest is just now 50, a successful teacher, prominent coach, and Bible-scholar, the youngest, 46, an avowed atheist. Both were scholarship college athletes. I had always assumed the reason for their split was because of their mother’s and my marital split, just as the eldest went to college, but as the youngest went into 9th Grade. I missed those important four years.
My Generation just assumed our kids would be taught the same way we had been. It never dawned on me that maybe what they were or were not being taught in public schools in the 1980s might have been why this wide variance in how kids were educated, if they only got it at school and the street. But when I saw that contrast between two Maryland-area children of affluence in the Kavanaugh hearing; one lying her skirts off about the other, simply because of some sort of sisterhood oath she’d taken in college, I knew we’d screwed up.
That said, about My (Vietnam War) Generation, we are now on that same slippery slope to eventual extinction…our dads’ generation have almost completed. Two things have dawned on me:
That of the 200,000 Americans who have died of Covid-19 since March, a large number of them probably were of My Generation…their politics or patriotism unknown, still, a likely net gain for the Left,
That this 2020 election, while not the last for many of ur, it will be the LAST ELECTION in which My Generation’s vote can make a significant difference in the outcome.
Let this last point sink in. All hands on deck!
When the Tea Party first began in 2010, I attended several meetings in this area, and most of them were working folks; shop keepers, grille-operators, factory workers. It would be 2014 before I would see voters from more affluent professional circumstances, people like me who had simply been too busy with careers and social things when they should have been paying greater attention to the things being passed onto their kids on the sly… only it’s no longer on the sly, but in-yer-face in the open.
Yes, it was the Obama years, then came the Clinton-Obama conspiracy against our chosen, Donald Trump, in 2017, that caused so many of Our Generation to turn back to the American faith of our fathers.
But many of us did so with the greatest regret for the things we negligently allowed to be done to our children.
This may be Donald Trump greatest hidden army yet, for no pollsters know this army even exists, or even how big it is.
But at least for one more go-round, we are still America’s largest generation with a memory.
And we are the only ones, in our remaining years, who can blaze a path back to what used be done in the first 200 years of America’s history.