Image by brizzle born and bred. Creative Commons.
I was born right in the middle of the Baby Boom Generation (1946-1964). The Cuban Missile Crisis, The Cold War, The Civil Rights Movement, the assassinations of John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr., the Vietnam War, student unrest, illicit drug use, and the sexual revolution are some of the things I remember as I grew up. The timeframe was also an age marked by economic prosperity, the urbanization of America, the rise of the suburbs, space exploration, the ubiquity of television, and experimentation in the world of rock music.
A lot happened during my growing up years that gave us a sense of superiority as Americans as the economy expanded and the business world was on a steady upward trajectory. But a lot also happened that left me feeling that the very foundations of the culture were being shaken.
As a child of six, I thought it a real possibility that a nuclear missile would hit the United States. It never occurred to me that the Midwest was not within range (or on the target list) of the Russian missiles based in Cuba. Still, I was frightened.
Everything seemed to be shaken during the late sixties and early seventies. Vietnam was a war that took the lives of over 211,000 young people and gave rise to huge protests, sit-ins, clashes with police and guardsmen, and a wealth of protest music. When you couple that with racial riots as the civil rights movement was shaking out, the sexual revolution, the popularity of illegal drug use, and the hippie movement, you have not only an unstable society, but a gigantic clash between generations.
The events of this era provided the spark that lit the fuse of a generational confrontation. The generation that was coming of age had much to question and even hate about their world. The older generation deplored the way young adults were responding to the events of the day. It was called The Generation Gap.
The people in charge wore their white shirt, narrow, dark neckties, and suit jackets, sporting close cropped haircuts. The younger generation that was in open revolt wore their rebellion with their long hair, beards, jeans dragging the ground, and bare feet. The differences in appearance were symbolic of how far apart these generations were in their attitudes.
We all know that hippies of sixties became the stock brokers of the eighties and nineties, because most everybody eventually grew up. So, the boomers went on to be the generation consumed with success and all of the fine things money can buy. They still seem to be consumed with pursuing the good life even as they reach retirement. Funny how that turned out.
They became slightly better marriage partners and parents, but were preoccupied with getting ahead. Thankfully, they became more compassionate toward people who did not enjoy all of the advantages they did.
They ushered in a new society of civil rights and PC correctness, born out of the turmoil of their younger days.
Strange, how I feel so nostalgic about those days of turmoil and rebellion.
Recently, we attended a Moody Blues concert filled with people in their in their fifties and sixties. I have never seen so many old people rock so much and have such a good time. I was among the most entusiastic and probably an embarrassment to my wife.
And so, my generation looks back fondly on their days of rebellion, singing songs written while under the influence of illegal substances. But they also have the money to buy the tickets to see the geezer rockstars in concert.