This year I will be turning 70 and that causes one to reflect on the past and what the future will hold.
I am the first born in my family and the leading edge of what is called the Baby Boom generation. We were raised by the Greatest Generation that lived through the Great Depression and fought and won World War II which ensured we would live in a free society with unlimited opportunities.
We grew up in the 1950s and early ’60s when family values and patriotism were the center of our culture. The film industry and television portrayed the same values with such shows as “Father Knows Best” and the “Wonderful World of Disney.” The Boomer generation has been influencing our society since we were born. Our age of innocence ended in November 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and we became embroiled in the Vietnam War. The assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy and the ensuing social turmoil changed our society forever and not for the better.
Our generation is the first generation that has the responsibility caring for children past high school during the college years and even early working years. We also have increased responsibilities of caring for our aging parents who in general are living longer than our grandparents did. While we are grateful for our parents living longer, it has increased our level of stress as we manage both ends. Hence we are now known as the “Bookend Generation.”
Because boomers are living longer, we have become increasingly involved with our grandchildren. This has been accelerated by the fact that families are stressed by the increased number of single-parent households and households with both parents working. Teachers today are becoming more involved with their students’ problems but they will never be as effective as parents, who should be involved. We have seen the erosion of family values especially over the last decade, which I feel is playing out in the increased violence and divisive nature of our society today.
My wife and I have 10 grandchildren and have been involved with their lives from birth and now into early adulthood. People do not realize how children really look to their grandparents as role models on how to live and act, especially as I had mentioned previously of the pressures and time constraints that parents have today.
Retirement in past generations was seen as a time to relax, travel and enjoy the fruits of their labors. While that is still a part of retirement if you can afford it, I suggest we boomers have a higher calling.
As in the past, we have changed society by our actions. We need to volunteer and keep involved with the community but, more importantly, we need to be the moral compass for our children and grandchildren. We can’t just sit back and let things happen and hope somehow the course of our nation will be changed.
As Ronald Reagan once stated, “Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the blood stream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on to them to do the same.” The same can be said for morals and family values today.
It is our responsibility and obligation to future generations to carry the torch. I would hope you agree.
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