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NOTE
: THE DEFINING GENERATION is a project begun by Doug and Pam Sterner in 2002 and completed in 2006. Initially is was prepared for publication as a book, however with their changing focus to development of a database of military awards, was postponed indefinitely so they could concentrate on that larger, more important work. The stories found herein however, need to be shared, and they have consented to make this compilation available in this format. While each story can stand alone, it is recommended that for continuity, readers will be best served by reading the chapters sequentially from first to last.

 

The Defining Generation

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Out With the Old

The Defining Generation

The most basic question the authors had to address in the development of this treatise is exactly WHO are the members of the Defining Generation. As this book progressed it seemed that the term was subject to expansion beyond what we initially expected, e.g. that The Defining Generation was the young men and women who "came of age" (in their teens or early twenties) during that period often called the "turbulent 60s" and briefly into the 1970s. Generally, these young are identified by the single most prominent and divisive event of our period, the Vietnam War (1960 - 1975).

These young men and women have often also been described as "Baby Boomers", children born of the Greatest Generation in the immediate aftermath of World War II. Even here, historians of the period have difficulty pinpointing the exact start and end dates of the unprecedented birth of children in America. Perhaps the most-widely accepted standard is that the Baby Boomers are those 78 million children born between 1946 and 1964, although even that is subject to considerable disagreement.

Some who have studied our history believe the baby boom began three years earlier, in 1943, when the mid-war rotation of men in military resulted in the return of many soldiers from overseas posts on furloughs or reassignment. Some ascribe the end of the baby boom as early as 1958, when the spike in births reached its peak and began to decline measurably.

Historian Steve Gillon, author of Boomer Nation, refers to children born between 1959 and 1964 as Shadow Boomers. "I think in order to be a genuine baby boomer, you have to have some recollection of the Kennedy assassination," he told CBS News in 2006. "The Kennedy assassination is, it's the first event of national significance that people experienced simultaneously and through television.[i]"

Perhaps more importantly than describing The Defining Generation as "those who were conceived during the Baby Boom," whatever period of time one ascribes to the term, is identifying the MOVEMENT that this generation witnessed, participated in, and ultimately made history as a part of. The 60s movement (which extended into the mid-'70s) is generally seen as a revolution of the young, the questioning of authority, and ousting of the status quo as the determinant standard for life in the United States.

While the most dramatically vivid event of that period was no doubt the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, ours was a revolution that had already been launched through the sweeping changes of the early 1960s: Kennedy's Commission on Women's Rights, introduction in Congress of the Civil Rights Act, establishment of the Peace Corps, and expansion of the space program, among other developments. Thus we have come to believe that the "shot heard round the world" of the 60s revolution most likely was the January 20, 1961, inauguration of John F. Kennedy. The youngest man ever elected President of the United States, he came to represent a break from the old ways and then illustrated it through a brief two and a half years in the Oval Office.

Ironically enough, it was perhaps the yearning for something new that propelled Kennedy to victory over the sitting vice president who despite his own uncommon youth (for a Presidential candidate) had come to represent the OLD. Richard M. Nixon would reemerge during the latter years of the 1960s, finally attaining the political office he lost in 1960 but forced as President to confront Civil Rights Protests, a women's movement demanding an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and an American public at odds with American involvement in the war in Vietnam. Ironically, though all of these issues were still unresolved and continued to ferment turmoil in America, the revolution that began in 1961 ended thirteen years later on August 9, 1974, when Richard Nixon resigned as President of the United States.

History can not blame the revolution of the Defining Generation on President Nixon; he was a victim of that revolution as surely as events in his life marked both its beginning and its end. Those events however, do give us a relatively specific time in American history to pinpoint an era of sweeping change. For our purposes, the Defining Generation is those young men and women in their teens and twenties, including some who were born in the early years of World War II as the Defining Generation.



[i] The Graying Of The Boomer Generation, CBS News, February 5, 2006

 

 

The Defining Generation: Copyright 2006 by Doug and Pam Sterner
All Rights Reserved

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Cover & Introduction
     Preface
Out With the Old
     The Defining Generation

I. - Defining the New
     John Fitzgerald Kennedy
     Roger H.C. Donlon
     Robert Robin Moore
     Barry Sadler
     The Green Beret

II. - Defining Equality
     When Worlds Collide
     Dr. Martin Luther King
     Jimmy Stanford & Vince Yrineo
     Milton Lee Olive, III
     Specialist Lawrence Joel
     Sammy Lee Davis
     Black MOH Recipients - Vietnam War

III. - Defining the Role of the Sexes
     Evolution of a Husband
     Remember the Ladies
     Rosie the Riveter
     Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard
     Linda G. Alvarado
     Karen Irene Offutt
     Women in Military Service
     Lieutenant General Carol Mutter
     The Modern Woman in Combat
IV. - Defining Human Rights
     My Brother's Keeper
     Who is My Brother
     Christopher Dodd & Christopher Shays
     Peace Corps Politicians (Memories)
     Don Bendell
     Sir Edward Artis
     General Colin L. Powell

V. - Defining Entertainment
     Life Imitating Art
     Troubled Waters
     Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
     Brian's Song
     All in the Family
     Adrian Cronauer

VI. - Defining Dissent

     From Berkeley With Love
     The Pen and the Sword
     General David Shoup
     Muhammad Ali
     John Forbes Kerry

VII. - Defining the Future of Politics
     An Act of Congress
     All Politics is....Hereditary?
     Hillary Rodham Clinton
     Condoleezza Rice
     James Henry Webb
The next Section is scheduled for posting on May 20, 2011
VIII. - Defining Memories
     Jaime Pacheco
     The Glory of their Deeds
     Jan Scruggs
     Delbert Schmeling
     Peter C. Lemon

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
The authors extend our thanks to the following who granted personal interviews for this work
: Roger Donlon (MOH), Robin Moore, Don Bendell, Jimmy Stanford, Vince Yrineo, Sammy L. Davis (MOH), Linda Alvarado, Karen Offutt, Lieutenant General Carol Mutter, Sir Edward Artis, General Colin L. Powell, Katharine Houghton, Adrian Cronauer, Jan Scruggs, Delbert Schmeling, and Peter Lemon (MOH).
Our thanks to the staff of the following who either wrote or allowed reprint of their own works for this book: Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard, Don Bendell, Congressman Sam Farr, Congressman Thomas Petri, Congressman Mike Honda, Congressman Jim Walsh, Governor Jim Doyle, and Scott Baron.
Our special thanks also to the staff of the following who provided information and fact-checked the chapters related to their subject: Staff of Senator John Kerry, Staff of (then) Senator Hillary Clinton, Staff of Senator Jim Webb
A SPECIAL THANKS also to Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard for his assistance in writing and editing the entire section on the Role of the Sexes.

 

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