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An Open Letter to the Boomer Generation

By Remy Benoit

Kierkegaard: Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward.

I have been asked so many times, Who ARE you people?
Who are we?
I have heard us called The Sellout Generation.
We have been called The Flower Children; the Radicals; the Draft Card and Bra Burners. We served with honor, some of us volunteered. We were scorned by others, some of them, well, some of them, us.
Who are we?

We are conservatives, liberals, middle of the roaders; warriors, and peacmakers. We are Human Rights Activists and Survivalists.
We live in skyscrapers held up with 401K’s, Certificates of Deposit, huge bank accounts.
We live on partial Veterans’ Benefits.
We are single parents trying to hold it all together with too much month left at the end of
the money.
We play golf, go boating, take our kids to Disneyland, and send them off to colleges.
We hope they come to visit once in a while.
Who are we?

We are 78 million strong. or we are 78 ineffective.
We are Christians, Jews, Atheists, Muslims, Zen Buddhists, Panentheists, Agnostics,
We are healthy; we are ill.
But Who are we?

We supported our war, or we fought our war, or we protested our war.
We still live with war.
We believe peace is possible.
We believe peace is not possible.

We are married, some of us a couple times.
We are single, widowed.
Our lives are joyfilled; our lives are painfilled.

Who are we?
We are the Boomer Generation.
We all know who Peggy Sue is.
We have Rocked Around the Clock.
We have asked Where Have all the Flowers Gone?

We knew Sputnik.
We nightmared the Cold War.
We saw mushrooms as they weren’t supposed to be.
Some of us had Yellow Polka Dot Bikinis.

These words are our words:
Remem mem, Remember when?

Mutually Assured Destruction
Bomb shelters
If a neighbor knocks on the door of your shelter...?
Godzilla et. al. movies
Dien Bien Phu
Rock n Roll
Elvis, Bill Haley, Big Booper, Richie Valens,
Father Knows Best
Ozzie and Harriet
Ask not what your country....
Beatles Revolution
Herman's Hermits
Mini skirts
Hare Krishna
Guns of October

I have a dream...

civil rights/ Selma/ riots
Tet Offensive
Major War Protests
Draft card burning
Frat parties
Kent State
Bobby Kennedy
Tonkin Resolution
Gene McCarthy
Moon Shot
NASA/ Young Astronauts
Impossible Dream
Bella Abzug
Gloria Steinham
Women's Movement vs. Total Woman

'Nam advisors/escalation
Watergate hearings
Daniel Ellsberg
Pentagon Papers
Man from LaMancha
Doctor Zhivago
Ben Hur
Star Trek and Gene Roddenberry
Civil Rights Acts
Age of Aquarius
Like a rolling stone..."
folk rock
Jane Fonda
Easy Rider
The Graduate
Simon and Garfunkel
Dylan, Baez, Collins,
college upheavals for relevance
J.B. Rhine and psychic research
Cayce Institute
Atomic submarines/ Jets/Concorde/Cruise Missles/ M-16/germ
warfare/chemical warfare/Scud Missles
Black Panthers
Huey Newton
Sly and the Family
Television shows/ Juxtapose 'Happy Days' with Vietnam/ Archie
Bunker's 'All in the Family
How does it Feel
Gerry Ford/pardon of Richard Nixon
Vietnam Vets Against the War
Born on the Fourth of July

Manson Murders
Khrushchev and followers
Klan and Civil Rights
American anti-Semitism
Invasion of Cambodia/Pol Pot
End of Vietnam
Post traumatic shock syndrome
Agent Orange
Jimmy Carter/pardons
Lennon Assassination
Squeaky Fromm
Regan/attempted assassination
Hard rock/acid rock/rap
Space shuttles
TV evangelists
Rupert Sheldrake
Beat: Keruoac
Allen Ginsberg
Jacqueline Suzanne
Stephen King
Sci Fi writers
science fantasy writers
War and Remembrance
Alan Watts
Carl Jung
Zen teachers
John Denver
Silent Majority
Pat Robinson et. al
Best Seller lists of 1950'2, 60's, 70's,80's,90's
Hurricane's of significance Agnes, Gloria, Hugo, Camille,
British invasion

Berlin Wall
End of Soviet Union
Idi Amin Dada
African Famines
Gulf War/Bush/Iran Contra
Live Aid
Farm Aid
New Age
Movies 'Nam:
Apocalypse Now
Born on the 4th of July
In Country
Hamburger Hill
Boys in Company C
George Lucas; Star Wars
Stephen Spielberg
Jurassic Park I and II
Holocaust memories
Saving Private Ryan
Thin Red Line
We Were Soldiers Once...
Vietnam Era Music:
differences in what was important here and in country
Vietnam slang Don’t mean nuthin."
When Can We Come Home?
Me Decades
The Things They Carried
Iran Contra
Desert Storm
Desert Storm Syndrome
New Millennium......
New Age
Twin Towers
Obviously, I could go on for days. But what do we know of these things? What have we
taught our children and grandchildren of these things? Have we stopped to think of how
they have impacted on our lives, on our character? This is why we need to know history.
We need to know history to know who and where we are, and where we have come from.

We know the smell of damp wool from our coats as we sat in hallways practicing for
Atomic War. We have protested The Bomb.
We have known prison camps, wondered where the Missing in Action have gone.
We have watched the Five O’Clock Follies, the bombing of Baghdad, the current troops
We have danced to Disco music, moved to suburbia, barbecued in silly aprons. We have bought Volkswagons and BMW's.
We have bought junk and health food.
But all those things, all those words, events, do not say Who we are.
We are 78 million strong.

Can we stand up in our middle age and be counted for something? Now that we have ripened, mellowed do we know Who we are?

Some of us have left megabuck jobs to go to places like Bosnia. Some of us are Vietnam Veterans who run schools in country. Some of us just try to pass on the love, the unconditional love, the dream of peace to others who cross our paths each day.

But each of us seems, no matter what we are doing, to have a part of us inside that gnaws. That part still asks Where have all the Boomers gone? What do we stand for?

Who are we?

I am asking you to tell us who we are. Write to Please send your permission to upload to the site, and give me the name you would like on the piece. Tell us what you are doing. Tell us what that list of "words," how those life events have shaped who and what you are.

Tell us Who We Are.

Have we sold out? Do we still work "underground? Can we still say We didn’t start the fires?

Yes, Who are we?
Most importantly: Who do we want to be?
Who Will We Be?
This is, in fact, the first day of the rest of your life. Make it count.
Can we answer the question for all time: THIS IS WHO WE ARE...

White tile
Tabula rasa.
Bring me your ability
to live unencumbered
in the Light.


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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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