Greatest Generation vs Baby Boomers

by John A
(Tyler Tx)

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.

Comments for Greatest Generation vs Baby Boomers

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Genration comparison - a baby-boomer's opinions.
by: Anonymous

This comment was too interesting to post as a comment... moved here:
Generation Comparison: A Boomers Opinion.
Now, she can get comments on her own story... thanks!

John from Tyler speaks
by: Ricardo

Well John......we have not heard from you for some time. I guess you have been contemplating some Very insightful comments to share with one and all!

To quote some lyrics from an old song, "you don't know what you've got until you lose it."

We, as Americans in general have taken for granted many things for many years in this country that we call our home. Complacency whether it is at the work place, at home, at the ballot box, is a detriment to our way of life and will eventually pay the price with loss of freedoms that our forefathers gave their blood for on foreign lands all over the world! Shame on us for "expecting something for nothing."

There is no free lunch in this world.

The price that we pay for all this government dependency is OUR FREEDOMS.....doesn't anybody get it!

How to be Poor
by: Nina from London


When I think about struggling to make ends meet, I can only express how grateful I am to my parents.

~They had such a difficult journey not only because of the 30's (famine in Ukraine), World War II and then coming to America and working continuously so that we would be fed and clothed.

That's why we started working at an early age to help them. I got a job at a Farm Market at 12 years old near our farm to earn money to buy clothes. My sister began working in the summer in a clothing factory and my brother would cut lawns. Anything to earn money so that we could give them a break.

However, we never complained and they didn't. Whether it was that their parents had an even harder life...I don't know.

Not everyone has the attitude of entitlement. There are people who have grown up with prosperity and assume that they will always have "The Good Life".

If you go to parts of America today you realise there are people who know how to be poor... There is a book by that name that I treasure, written by a Hungarian who came to London, and lived a very simple life.

Best Wishes, Nina

What happens next?
by: Sheila

We know all that, we "oldies" that have been through it. Now, give us a solution, if there is one, please.

by: Sharyn~~~CANADA

I read your story & l agree with all that u wrote!
The well HAS run dry. Much of our manufacturing has been ( from Canada ) allocated to other countries where good people work for pennies an hour or even a day! Long hours and poor working conditions prevail.

l am 66 yrs old & remember when there were many light industrial manufacturing: clothing, sweaters,socks,jeans. If u were not happy at one factory, a person could quit & walk down the street to another factory and be hired the same day to start the next morning! However, those days r long gone & have been for a long time now.

I realized then, back in the early 80's, l was 34 ( female ) the situation here in Canada was changing & if l wanted to work & earn good money & have a good job, l needed to go back to school to become a nurse!

I graduated in 1984 & that was the proudest moment of my life. l had my career until 2007 & enjoyed every min. of it!

My point is, l did what l thought was a practical choice for me. However, there were many people I knew personally, l worked in factories along side them & thru no fault of their own, lost jobs & couldn't find another good paying job to help support the family & as the years have gone by, the situation here in Canada has only gotten worse!

l am happy all those years ago l saw the light at the end of the tunnel and took the right path.

You have written an eye-opening letter here & I hope many more people choose to read it...

Baby Boomers
by: Carol K

John, that was terrific article, very thought-provoking and insightful. It should be published in every newspaper in the country, even Canada, where I live. Every young person should be made to read it somehow.

Carol K

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