It’s amazing the social changes we’ve survived

Published 10:03 am Friday, January 27, 2017

The other day, I was watching the movie “The Right Stuff,” about America’s early space program, and it got me thinking about my generation and what we have experienced and seen over the past 60 years.

I’m a Baby Boomer, a member of a generation spawned by the members of what has been called “The Greatest Generation,” between 1946 and 1964.

We grew up and survived our early years without computers, cell phones and video games. For us, high technology was the television and radio. For most of our young lives we didn’t have air conditioning. Our house got our first air conditioner — a window unit — in 1964, and it was installed in the living room. I had a friend whose new home had central air — a novelty and a marvel; you knew someone had it made when they got central air.

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Back then, in the ’50s and ’60s, we were made to “go outside and play,” except on those extremely humid southern summer days when the temperature was 98 and the humidity 100.

We were witnesses to a lot of history. In 1962, we watched the Cold War heat up as America and Russia approached the brink of nuclear war over Russia delivering nuclear missiles to Cuba. We sat glued to our TV sets as we watched President Kennedy address the nation and use a pointer to show the photos of Russian ICBM launch sites in Cuba. The next year, we cried as we watched the funeral of an assassinated president on TV.

We had our own war, Vietnam, that was played out every evening on the 6 p.m. network news programs. Some of us either joined or were drafted into the service and went to war. Some of us stayed home. Some of those who went to war came home alive but changed, and some came home in boxes. Some never made it home at all.

We watched America put a man in space and then on the moon. We saw a revolution in music brought by the likes of Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry and Ray Charles. We also saw a revolution in social consciousness, and, to borrow a line from author William Allen’s book “Only Yesterday,” about the 1920s, a revolution in manners and morals.

We watched members of a president’s staff be indicted for criminal activity, and that president leave office in disgrace. We saw two more attempts to assassinate presidents that failed, and an election controversy in 2000 that is still discussed today.

As I look back over the years, it’s amazing how much we’ve witnessed and the changes in society we’ve seen over the years; some of those events raised social consciousness and some dimmed it. And through it all, we’ve learned to survive and adapt to the changes that have come.

And there’s no telling what we’ll see before our time on this earth is over. Either way, our lives have been full.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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