Hominy & Hash
GENERATION X REVEALED ITSELF ON SEPT. 11
by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- If I gave it any thought at all a few months a= go, I would have thought the "X" in Generation X stood for an unknown quant= ity -- I couldn't think of anything particularly noteworthy of the designat= ed group as a whole, leaving aside the spectacular few.
This was a generation born to parents pledging to give their children al= l the things they never had, to reach goals they themselves were forced by = circumstances to abort, and to never suffer the proverbial slings and arrow= s of life.
Tom Brokaw brought that earlier generation to life, allowing us to give = tribute to the self-effacing survivors who never asked for anything but to = do their duty, go home, raise their families, and live in a democracy they = helped uphold.
"Could I do that?" asked sons of the fathers at "Saving Pr= ivate Ryan" and knowing those heroes were twenty-something and far from the= comforts and security of home. No, I don't think so, they said, even of th= emselves.
This is the generation spending more on one 1958 Superman comic= book in mint condition than it would take to feed his father's family for = two years. It's a generation that never had anything to worry about, ignore= d the sacrifice of those who served in Korea and Vietnam, -- "It's not our = war, why should we care?" -- and enjoyed the fruits of living in the land o= f the free and the home of the brave.
This is the generation of second op= inions, consensus, committees, group participation and public deliberation.= The "X" could stand for excess, never excellent. In the last 15 years, rum= blings about character emerged. You either have it or you don't. And, if yo= u don't, where do you get it?
In The Book of Virtues, former cabinet secr= etary and author William Bennett, offered stories affirming and cultivating= what is morally sound, ethically right -- and he had a runaway best seller= . You wouldn't think it had to be taught, but obviously, it does.
Publi= c Broadcasting System created a television program based on the book and ea= ch week the young characters face moral or ethical dilemmas. PBS writes: "W= e're pleased that these memorable, life affecting, 'positively entertaining= ' stories have found their way to you in you home."
The New York Times= Magazine runs "The Ethicist" by Randy Cohen and fills a need for those= truly wanting answers for questions that earlier generations wouldn't have= asked. Granted, kids in an earlier age were "taught to the tune of a hicko= ry stick," a system deplored by those who learned their lessons of life the= hard way, and not through the virtual reality of television examples of wh= at to do in challenging situations. But, they learned.
Not to my surpris= e, Baby Boomers have a Web site. Many, in fact, and in answer to my questio= n asking what exactly is a baby boomer, I got this reply from one of them (= http://126.96.36.199/whatsabm.htm) regarding their place in our economy: =
"We are amused when visitors write to us ask what effect the boomers are= having on the economy. Folks, in 2001, the economy is the boomers! = We represent the vast majority of the work force. There are 76 million of u= s; we are the economy. (That is not bragging; that is just a statist= ical reality.) The huge growth in the economy in the 90's was due in no sma= ll part to 76 million of us working up to our peak earning and spending yea= rs. What are we spending our money on? Other than Metallica CDs and movies = aimed at 15-year-olds, whatever is being sold... we are buying it. What kin= d of cars are we buying? What kind is Detroit selling? We are the up= per end of the automobile market. What explains the explosion in the popula= rity of SUVs? We do. Where do we go on vacation? Everywhere. How do we get = there? Every way possible. Day care centers are thriving because boomers do= not want to take care of the kids they produced."
They may not call that= bragging, but they certainly aren't complaining. Almost from the beginning= of the merging generations Boomer and Generation X, we have seen self indu= lgent braggadocios raise the divorce rate to 50% and make it look normal, w= hile others still marry high school sweethearts and remain married. They ca= n neither be lumped together nor separated. There was never the common bond= of being drafted into military service. They never had the need to shout "= all for one and one for all," and for them, E Pluribus Unum is an an= tiquated etching on a worthlerss coins.
And then, BOOM! And, then = a second BOOM! and then the biggest BOOM! of all was heard as= Xes and Boomers, acting as one and not in committee. Acting instantly, not= waiting for a second opinion, as in:
"Are you going in there?" "No, I'= m not going in there."
"Let's let Mikey go in there." "He went in there= , Mikey went in there. Hey, Mikey."
No, none of that, although we would h= ave accepted it as normal ... given our general perception of the group as = a whole. But, that third BOOM! was the shot of adrenaline heard surg= ing through the hearts of that generation who knew what they had to do when= they had to do it. From across the country, they came instantly and raised= America from the ashes while the flames still roared, using nothing but th= e strength of their backs, the sweat of their brows, and their determinatio= n to preserve democracy.
They know what Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of = Happiness means. They've live it and they love it. Out of our false impres= sion rose a legion armed with nothing but themselves to vie with any genera= tion before them as the greatest.
The people of Tom Brokaw's book, "The Greatest Generation," are now con= fined to the annals of the 20th Century, while Generation X and the Baby Bo= omers lay claim to the 21st. This will be one hard act to follow.