Passing of the Torch


The following was inspired by a post at ,Straight White Guy. It’s a great site, check it out.
Another literary great left this mortal coil. William Manchester was 82. Perhaps gaining his greatest notoriety for his works about John F. Kennedy and Winston Churchill.
He was part of my parents generation. The one many are now calling “The Greatest Generation”, and rightly so.
They faced the hardships of world wide depression while growing up. It was the crucible in which their collective character was forged. When the reached young adulthood, their mettle was tested by the onslaught of WWII. Returning home, they proceeded to realize their dreams.
They married, raised children, bought homes, and for the most part quietly lived their lives. They applied the traditional American work ethic, being the muscle which turned America’s war machine back into what became the free market giant it is today.
They sought to give their children most everything they felt had been lacking (or hard to reach) in their lives. A lifestyle that was free from want, and allowed the next generation the opportunities most of them could have only dreamed of.
They were willing to recognize errors in the collective consciousness of America. And sought to correct them, the major changes in civil rights came about due to this. And recognizing they had so much, they sought to help those less fortunate. The great society movement was of their doing or at least was tacitly supported. (That it may have failed in the long run, does not diminish the intent of wanting to address the concerns of poverty that many had personally experienced in their youth.)
They reached for the stars. Seeing a greater destiny not only for themselves, but all of mankind. At the same time while trying to curb communist aggression in Southeast Asia (again at great personal and emotional cost). They brought us ultimately, to the moon.
The gave our generation more then any past generation ever had, in any number of ways. We were better fed, housed, and healed. Ours was a generation, for the greater part, without want. And although we, faced the specter of nuclear war, for the most part it was our parents generation that greatly reduced that threat. We had the opportunity to attend college in greater numbers than any previous generation.
Then, starting about twenty years ago, the Greatest Generation, began to “pass the torch” to us.
Over the course of those twenty years, fathers passed on the family business to their sons (and now daughters as well). Seats of political power saw men and women who grew up during VietNam replacing those who fought the Axis powers. Captains of industry, changed hands with younger corporate climbers. Stars of tv, music, stage, and screen, we grew up with (most from our parents generation),were replace with talent from our peer group.
Our parents, in turn, sought retirement. Staying more active then past generations, in pursuing hobbies and picking up on past dreams they had put aside. Traveling to see their country and the world in greater numbers and better health then any generation past.
Looking at the obituary notices in the local paper (small town, three notices a week on average) it becomes obvious, in ever increasing numbers, their journey is coming to an end. Our generation, in many cases, are assuming the patriarchal duties of our respective clans.
The torch really has been passed to the next generation.
When, in the next twenty years, I pass the flame to my sons, what shape will this country (and the world) be in? Will we be able to give up stewardship of this country knowing there is something to build upon? Or will it be beyond repair? Will the world still be in the state of flux it is in today? Or will we have addressed the evils and stagnant intellectual morass a large part of western civilization finds itself in (today). What about the rampant poverty and sickness that exists?
I hope we solve many of these. Or at least are progressing toward solutions. We owe it out of respect, to our parents generation. Our children and future generations deserve no less from us.

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