Throughout the twentieth and now the twenty first century, each American generation has taken on an identity of its own, shaped by the circumstances that surround it during its most seminal years. It is also an American tradition for clever Madison Avenue types to attach a nickname to each generation that embodies its most weighty attribute; the “Baby Boomers” after the post-war spike in childbirth, which lasted almost two decades. The “Greatest Generation” was branded due to the overwhelming hardships that generation overcame in order to deliver a more prosperous and safer nation to its successors. There is “Generation X” and “Generation Y” - the offspring of “Baby Boomers” who dragged us into the high-tech revolution of the present
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Throughout the two-decade baby boom, social engineers were busy finding the next cause célèbre to provide meaning to our otherwise mundane lives. The tone of politics and the nature of protest changed during these times in a revolutionary way. Slowly the foundation of American culture began to erode, spawning a new counter-culture movement. No longer satisfied with the preceding generation’s version of the “American Dream,” a quest for excess manifested itself in everything from our art to the cars we drove. Bigger, faster, more outrageous was the meme of my generation. The immense economic wealth of our nation triggered generational complacency, and apathy toward America’s roots and the great sacrifices made on our behalf by our forefathers.
Every generation eventually matures and gains valuable wisdom along the way. The Greatest Generation was forced to mature early by two world wars and an economic depression lasting more than a decade. The Baby Boomers as a generation were relative late bloomers. Whereas the life lessons we were taught by our parents were about integrity, work ethic, loyalty and family, and were born of the events that shaped them, the lessons we imparted on our children were about equality, tolerance and self awareness. These lessons were born more from political strife and the avant-garde methods of education in the 1960’s and 1970’s, where one’s feelings about an outcome