Who are we? This may sound like a dumb question but, there is a very large difference between those born in 1946 and those born in 1964. The country literally changed completely in that time frame.
Those who were born in 1946 – 1950 were born into a country that was flush with the victory of World War II and coming to grips with the incredible threat that the atomic bomb represented. By and large, they are the children of the returning WWII veterans. At that time, the country as a whole was enjoying a sense of self-confidence almost unparalleled in its history. The economy was expanding, there were jobs to be had and the newly-minted veterans made use of their “G.I. Benefits” with a vengeance. The vets went to school and got an education, bought houses, got married and made lots of babies. These children of the “Greatest Generation” were taught to achieve and succeed and they did in spades!
In contrast, those of us born between 1950 and 1955, were children of those born and raised during the years of the great depression. These fathers were too young to go to war but, they certainly suffered their share of hardship. They learned very early about it and it was not until after the war that they began seeing some level of comfort as the economy finally expanded. To these parents, education and money in the bank was of paramount importance and they instilled in us a sense of urgency about getting an education that would give us a career and a very high sense of prudence with the money earned.
While the 1950’s were years of great prosperity, they were also the years of the cold war. As we went to school, we were taught to crouch beneath the school desks and to go into the civil defense shelters. We were taught that all out annihilation was quite possible and real. As children, we became part of suburbia and part of the immense middle class that was being formed as a result of the extremely strong and expanding economy.
By 1964, the first baby boomers were getting to be 18. They had grown during the fabulous 50’s and, during the first half of the 60’s they saw the youngest president being sworn in, a real close encounter with nuclear war, a presidential assassination and the beginning involvement in a far away place no one had ever heard of – Viet Nam. We come, not so much from diverse places as from diverse history; the United States went through a historical upheaval in our formative years and, somehow, we came out of it and made it all work.