Greatest Generation vs Baby Boomers
by John A
This is my take on a comparison as a Baby Boomer vs the Greatest Generation.
I grew up in a middle class home where my folks provided me a nice home, food on the table and material things previous generations only dreamed about.
All of their success was achieved through hard work, sweat and innovation to get ahead in life.
They provided me an easy and enjoyable life; one that would cloud my appreciation of what it really took to get the family to that stage in society. This clouded appreciation seems to be endemic to the Baby Boomer and subsequent generations; we just don’t get it nor appreciate what the Greatest Generation has provided us.
Let’s digress a little and look back in this nation’s history. Prior to the 1950s and 60s, most folks lived in rural areas of the country. They either owned or worked in small town businesses or on farms.
Life was tough back then for many; particularly during the depression era. Yet these people persevered. Many didn’t have much and they made the best of what they already possessed. They operated under the notion “waste not, want not”; folks always seem to have enough to survive.
Then World War II came about and the entire face of this nation transformed over night. Young men were either drafted or volunteered into the military to fight fascism and imperialism on two different fronts: Europe and the Pacific.
Women took jobs in factories to build the guns, bombs, airplanes and bullets. It was Kilroy on the front lines and Rosie the Riveter in the factories who pulled together during this nation’s greatest time of need.
Our survival and existence sat squarely on their shoulders. Without them, this nation would not exist today and our country would be a totally different one. I hate to think what it would be like if they didn’t step up to the plate.
During this time, people had deep sense of urgency. They took on the notion that “loose lips sank ships” and did not discuss things that could place this nation in further jeopardy.
There were black out drills held in communities throughout the nation. People experienced shortages of sugar, gasoline, tires, metals, meat and countless other things since they were going to the war effort. Yet no one really complained since it was all for the common good of this nation. They fully understood what was as stake for this nation’s future if they didn’t pitch in and help.
As part of their effort to help out, families were uprooted since they had to go where the jobs were being created urban areas. Cities grew quickly while the rural area populations decreased substantially. This trend continued for over four years during the early 1940s and even extended into the early 1960s.
After the war ended, servicemen returned home. And nine months after their return, this nation began to experience a new generation of people being born: they are called Baby Boomers.
The war had created many jobs and prosperity. Returning service men and their families spurred a huge construction boom of housing in the urban areas. Manufacturing jobs that were originally developed during the war era were transformed into producing products for the consumer. Automobile, home and other consumer goods sales sky rocketed. For the most part, this nation experienced prosperity that lead to the consumerism we experience today.
It was the prosperity experienced in during the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s that lead to the Baby Boomers having easier ways of life. The emergence of the middle class blossomed during these years. Our parents had more disposable income to buy cars, clothing and other goods.
That prosperity also spoiled the Baby Boomer. It made us soft; it created an attitude of high expectations where we get something for nothing because we didn’t have to work or work as hard for things. Often our parents gave things to us without our working for them. It made us unappreciative of hard work and saving money for those rainy days. It seems as though an attitude was fostered into us that the fellow with the most toys at the end of the game wins. The end result of all of this is having an entitlement mentality that we see today throughout our great society.
Today we see the economic conditions of this nation spiral downward. Spending it out of control with our government, citizens are expecting the government to take care of them, many in the work force do not possess a work ethic and there is an attitude of “what is in it for me”.
Despite this, what we experience today is mild in comparison to what our parents / grand parents experienced in the 1930s and 1940s. We are nowhere close to those days.
Baby Boomers and subsequent generations have never really experienced shortages of anything aside from the gasoline shortages in the 1970s that were caused by tensions in the mid-east.
We have had life pretty darn easy in comparison, though some of us think things are horrible. They could be much worse. And if they were to be worse, it would certainly make us more appreciative of what we once had.
As I think about things, maybe the economic conditions we are experiencing today are really a good thing in disguise and have not realized it yet. Perhaps we need to be better grounded in our thinking that hard work pays off and we don’t get something for nothing. We can’t and shouldn’t depend on government to pull us through the hard times.
Instead, we need to be more innovative in our thinking by building a better mouse trap, not feeling a menial job is below our dignity since we all have to start some where.
Our parents and grand parents worked hard and they started at the bottom of the ladder and eventually worked their way up to higher positions. Why should Baby Boomers be any different?
Why shouldn’t Baby Boomers and subsequent generations be given a dose of humility? What’s wrong in making people less expectant or have fewer feelings of entitlement to get them grounded through working hard and developing a work ethic?
Is this how we show thanks to our forefathers when they have handed us our way of life on a sliver tray plated with their lives? We apparently don’t appreciate their hard work, ingenuity or wisdom they have tried to pass down through the different generations.
Instead, we’ve squandered everything they’ve given us and we want more. To me, it seems the well has run dry.