Increasingly, I find myself in the position of someone born shortly after the War of the American Revolution when looking back from the vantage point of 1860. Or how someone born in 1870 would feel looking back from 1940.
Let’s define some terms.
|Generation cognomen||Born from|
Those are very approximate. I’m using Tom Brokaw’s definition of the “Greatest Generation” and assigning later generations based on attitudes rather than strict year count. Necessarily, there’s quite a bit of overlap.
Here’s one way of looking at it. If the first president you can remember is Calvin Coolidge, you’re Greatest Generation. If the first president you can remember is Franklin Roosevelt, you’re Silent Generation. If the first president you can remember is John Kennedy, you’re a Baby Boomer. If the first president you remember is Ronald Reagan, you’re Gen X. If the first president you remember is Bill Clinton or George W. Bush, you’re a Millennial.
Here’s another way. John Wayne was Greatest Generation. James Dean was Silent Generation (so is Dustin Hoffman). Madonna is a Baby Boomer although her primary market has been Gen Xers. Will Smith is Generation X. Selena Gomez is a Millennial.
Now we’re beginning to meander towards my point. Although I think that Baby Boomers are justifiably blamed for all sorts of things, I also think they’re given a bad rap about some things. Who do you think of when you think when you of when I say “1960s campus radicals”? The leaders of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, and William Ayres were all Silent Generation. Most of those both fighting and protesting the Vietnam War were Silent Generation although they were joined by some of the oldest Baby Boomers. The Haight-Ashbury scene? Silent Generation. Leisure suits? Silent Generation. Disco? For that you can blame Baby Boomers.
Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid are all Silent Generation. Chuck Schumer is a Baby Boomer.