Monday, January 28, 2013

Best Intentions of the Class of '68

In the process of sorting and packing for our move to the condo my mother discovered some of my high school mementos, including the programs from senior prom and graduation.

Each generation blames those that went before it for the world's ills. But all I can say is, when we were the same age we had the best of intentions -- as evidenced by the motto for the Class of 1968.

My high school class grew up on mass visual media (our parents were the radio generation). I recall images from the evening news of Berliners risking (and losing) their lives attempting to cross the wall to freedom. The Civil Rights Movement evolved before our eyes - some of the imprinted visions include snarling German shepherds, fire hoses aimed at marchers, armed escorts walking black students to school, and Governor George Wallace of Alabama barring the school entrance. Reports from Vietnam were aired nightly as we finished high school and entered our college years. The same dogs, fire hoses, and firearms were used against those who protested a war they considered pointless.

We asked embarrassing questions:  Why can I be drafted at 18 but I can't vote for or against the men who send me into battle? Why do I do the same work as my male coworkers but receive lower wages?

We entered the work force en masse to find more applicants than available jobs. Like today's college graduates, many of us returned to our parent's homes as we hunted for gainful employment to initiate our adult lives.

The Class of '68, like earlier classes, intended to change the world for the better -- just as the young people of today believe they can improve on the bungling of prior generations.

I applaud your resolve and wish you luck. We, too, hoped to improve upon the world that we inherited. Our intentions were good.

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