Generation Sensation

Photo courtesy of SATIMA.ORG


So named by the author Tom Brokaw for their valor and bravery in serving their country, the “Greatest,” or “GI” Generation refers to the men and women who fought on the battlefield and on the homefront during World War II, and then later worked to build and rebuild American industries in the postwar years, according to These individuals were generally born between 1900 and 1924, and are justifiably considered “great,” as they helped preserve American liberty and were responsible for keeping our country stable and powerful through their actions in wartime.

The “Silent Generation” is a small subset of the population, born in the space between the two World Wars, roughly between 1925 and 1945. They were children during World War II, and grew up with the anxiety and uncertainty that the postwar years brought, including the Cold War and the nuclear arms race. The term “Silent Generation” is interesting, as it promotes the view that they were essentially “stuck” between the events undertaken by the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers, causing them to be “silent.” The term is derived from a 1951 Time magazine cover story describing individuals in this generation as fatalistic, disappointed and disillusioned.

The Baby Boom Generation, whose members are affectionately known as “Baby Boomers,” consists of those born between roughly 1946 and 1964. Until 2015, they were the largest generation, in terms of population numbers, peaking at around 79 million in 1999. They are currently around 75 million strong, according to The Atlantic.

The “Baby Boomers”get their name from a sharp, historical worldwide increase in population during the 1940s and 1950s. After the war, returning veterans began to start families, leading to this sudden upward trend, or “baby boom.” Members of this generation came of age during the 1960s, one of the most iconic and romanticized decades.

Generally, as young men and women, they participated in the great counterculture that gave rise to movements supporting feminism and women’s liberation, gay rights, environmentalism and such values as “peace and love.” They were also the first generation to begin promoting a college-going culture, after the GI Bill allowed their veteran parents to receive a college education in return for their service. The morals and values that had defined previous generationsbegan to be loosened and changed, in favor of more egalitarian and idealistic pursuits.

It is important to understand, however, that not all Baby Boomers were bra-burning liberal idealists. While many young students vigorously opposed the war in Vietnam, many young men felt it was their duty to serve their country and joined the military to fight the spread of the communist junta in Southeast Asia. Many Boomers were conservative, a viewpoint reflected later in their adult years with the rise of Ronald Reagan and a Republican-dominated government.

These three generations shaped the first half of the 1900s. It is thus a testament to their enduring legacy that we view them, even today, as influential forces in American history and society. Through their actions and viewpoints, society changed, as values and viewpoints changed and became accepted or discarded in favor of a prevailing idea. Institutions we take for granted today, such as a music industry, going to college right after high school and a general loosening of the “Puritan” and “Victorian” values the older generations held, all come from the Baby Boomers and the generations that preceded them.

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