The Generations

by Rick Bretz

Classifying people into generations and marking them with cultural characteristics is an entertaining exercise for sociologists and academics.  However, putting a particular generation into a certain box is only informative when analyzing the different world events that influenced the collective personality characteristics of people growing up in that era. The classification of generations begs the question: Is one generation better than another? Did one generation endure hardships?  Did another have it easier? It’s an intellectual exercise that can generate a discussion. Since Tom Brokaw’s book, “The Greatest Generation” was published, most of the reading public have stated that people who grew up to fight WWII and endure the Great Depression were part of the “Greatest Generation.”  Is there such a title-“The Greatest Generation”–One group of people who have shone brighter than any other  in history.

I prefer to think that each generation has had their own challenges and issues with their own solutions.  Can you say that one generation is better than another because they helped achieve a WWII victory while another fought in Vietnam and landed on the moon?  Another way to view the issue is: without one generation developing a particular technology the other wouldn’t have been able to achieve their significant achievements.

Members of the military are attempting to keep...
Members of the military are attempting to keep Vietnam War protesters under control. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scholars possess different views pertaining to the yearly division between generations, usually a few years separate one list from the other. Here is a list generations with significant (but not all) events occurring during their formative years compared across generations.

G.I./GREATEST

BORN:   1901-1928

SILENT

BORN:   1928-1945

BOOMERS

BORN:   1946-1964

GENERATION   X

BORN:   1965-1980

MILLENIALS

BORN:1981-2004

World   War I Stock   Market Crashes Marshall   Plan Vietnam   War Protests Chernobyl   Nuclear Accident
Spanish   Flu Great   Depression Yeager   breaks sound barrier Watergate   Hearings Soviet   Glasnost
Titanic   Sunk FDR   Elected NASA   formed Nixon   Resigns Fall   of Berlin Wall
Silent   Movie Era WWII   Begins Korean   War Vietnam   War Ends Disintegration   of Soviet Union
Roaring   20s WWII   Ends Cold   War Race   Riots Apple   and Microsoft
Ford   Model T and Assembly Line Atomic   Bomb used to defeat Japan JFK   Assassinated Civil   Unrest Hubble   Telescope
Russian   Revolution 1933-First   Concentration Camp McCarthy   hearings RFK   and MLK Assassinated 9/11
Prohibition The   Dust Bowl Cuban   Missile Crisis Armstrong,   Aldrin, Collins land on the moon War   on Terrorism
Lindbergh Flies solo   across Atlantic Japan attack on Pearl   Harbor DNA discovered Palestinian Terrorism Operation   Desert Storm
Penicillin Discovered United Nations Founded Vietnam War Roe vs Wade Internet   and Social Media

 

I

Alternate Listing for Generational Names from the Population Reference Bureau

1983-2001 – New Boomers
1965-1982 – Generation X
1946-1964 – Baby Boomers
1929-1945 – Lucky Few
1909-1928 – Good Warriors
1890-1908 – Hard Timers
1871-1889 – New Worlders

 

English: The Fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989. Th...
English: The Fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989. The photo shows a part of a public photo documentation wall at Former Check Point Charlie, Berlin. The photo documentation is permanently placed in the public. Türkçe: Berlin Duvarı, 1989 sonbaharı (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The above alternate generations list takes note of two generations that are usually overlooked, the Hard Timers and the New Worlders.  These are the generations that ushered in the industrial revolution, built railroads and began to introduce people to technology that would save their lives such as electricity and the light bulb.

If you look at history’s 20th Century Timeline, there are many events that could be listed that have influenced generations.  These are some of the ones I think are significant. I welcome any other events that you think I have missed or could be included.

Notable Links:

http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2011/05/living/infographic.boomer/index.html

http://www.prb.org/Publications/PopulationBulletins/2009/20thcenturyusgenerations.aspx

http://www.pewresearch.org/

http://history1900s.about.com/od/timelines/tp/timeline.htm

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