I just wanted to say that I am proud to be a Baby Boomer. We are a generation that has rocked and will continue to do so for another 15 to 20 years. But I don't think we all have the same view of life and at times, I don't think we can all relate to the same experiences that our fellow Baby Boomers have had.
Maybe the Baby Boomer generation, by definition, is too long. The fact that the Baby Boomer generation encompasses a full 18 years covers too much history. It covers too much change.
Doc and I just returned from a wonderful Memorial Day weekend in California. The entire weekend we were bombarded with media campaigns telling us that Memorial Day weekend is the best weekend of the year to buy a new car. It's was also the best weekend of the year to buy new furniture and appliances. And to stock up on beer, soda and groceries. It was best weekend of the year to go see a "blockbuster" movie. Or, if you were staying at home, it was the best weekend to get those pesky household projects completed.
Really, is that what Memorial Day has become?
You may not agree, but I feel the true meaning of why we celebrate Memorial Day has faded over recent years. I think this coincides with the reduction in the amount of WWI and WWII and even Korean War veterans that are still alive.
I may be wrong, but I don't think the general population today commemorates Vietnam or any modern day "wars" when celebrating Memorial Day as much as our older veterans do regarding their involvement in the two major world wars.
It just feels like there is not the same emotion and I think part of it has to do with the wide range of years in our Baby Boomer generation.
The Baby Boomer generation was born on the coattails of these horrible events. Even though our generation has been involved in conflicts just as horrific as the two major world wars, it just isn't the same.
Vietnam is the Baby Boomer war. But, did you realize that there has been almost 100 separate and distinct "wars" fought on our planet since the Vietnam war?
These conflicts raged in Africa and South America and Asia and the Middle East. They have been listed in the history books as the Uganda Civil War, the Falklands War and the First Gulf War. The U.S. Baby Boomer generation has been involved, one way or another in each of these conflicts. These weren't events that catalyzed the world population in a state of global community. They created division and discourse and conflict even among our own Baby Boomer generation.
The Vietnam war lasted for 10 years from 1965 to 1975. It was the very first Baby Boomers who fought in that war. Most of us born in 1956 and later were not there. As I look back to that time, in some ways I feel cheated. I feel a loss.
In 1974, the year I was first eligible for the draft, it ended and the U.S. converted to an all-volunteer military. For the first time in modern history, men my age did not feel the sting of being "forced" to join the military.
I didn't volunteer for the armed services and I didn't experience a war firsthand. I don't know why I didn't join up then, but now I have a sense of remorse that I didn't.
As strange as it sounds, because of this, I don't have the same sense of brotherhood that veterans experience on Memorial Day. I don't share their badge of honor. I am part of the same Baby Boomer generation, but not in the same way that Vietnam veterans are.
Although I never served, that doesn't mean I haven't been touched by the service and sacrifice of others. My older brother, Steve, fought in Vietnam. He was born in 1951 and was a fellow Baby Boomer. Even though we were only five years apart in age, our experiences as Baby Boomers were completely different. He fought for his country. I did not. But I understand the commitment he made to our country.
Maybe, it's that commitment that makes us different.
Maybe, it's that commitment that defines Memorial Day differently for us.
Memorial Day really highlights the fact that the boundaries of our Baby Boomer generation need to be redefined.
Still, serving your country, going to war, being a patriot, flying the American flag and standing with your hand over your heart during the National Anthem has always meant something deep and compelling to me.
Thanks for joining me.