I was of a generation raised in school to “duck and cover”, to fear Communist aggression and to expect the possibilities of a global nuclear conflict at any moment. Yet these were happy and carefree days on the most part due to the cheerfulness, almost giddiness, of our parents who began a new life as the conquerors of the vanquished. After all they had prevailed against the evil of this world and returned home victorious and triumphant from the Second World War.
Our parents were heroes and we, as a united people, felt invincible and yet a bit apprehensive due to the technological advances that we ushered in with the nuclear age. The weapons of war had become frightening. It was an age of schizophrenia; jubilant, prideful, carefree, happy but with the underpinnings of a looming disaster lying in wait just around the corner.
Ike was our president and though we were at war in Korea, it was spoken of as a mere police action while we spent our time setting off nuclear weapons in the Pacific atolls not far from Pearl Harbor, ground zero for our forced involvement in the Great War. But life in Hawaii was good and full of fun, sun and beaches. We kids swam and played as our parents engaged in almost endless games of bridge, canasta, hearts and other amusing card games though those times were certainly beginning to feel a bit of the creeping unrest to come: the stalemate in Korea, the development of missiles capable of putting a “sputnik” into orbit, the fall of Cuba to the Communists and the realization that nuclear missiles were being installed only a short distance from our shores.
We were dealing with the matter of Civil Rights, of note the “I have a dream” speech in ’63, then the shots that rang around the world: first the shots at Dealey Plaza, November 22nd, also in ’63, which killed JFK, preceded by our involvement in Cuban Democracy and South Vietnam’s push for independence. As if on cue, other shots rang out, almost an echo of the Lee Harvey Oswald shots occurring though they happened some 5 years later; and MLK lay dead. Obviously, tensions rose both domestically and internationally and we were getting much deeper into a seemingly endless fight with the Vietnamese Communists. Social unrest turned into social upheaval and we have never looked back.
Yes, we were a society of Ozzie and Harriets and the Mickey Mouse Club but we had become a nation of Psychedelic Rock, drug addiction and all around pleasure seekers. I wonder if we were trying to convince ourselves that we could run away from evil or join forces with it in a type of truce so that we might continue our carefree youth or extend it. Alas! That was not to be: for our past had been completely uprooted.
We were the Boomers, the kids of the Greatest Generation, who rode the coattails of our parent’s exuberance in all that they had accomplished. They had a right to their positivism as they had earned it. We had not. And most of us would come to learn this truth in the many long and painful lessons which were to tear our families apart, our faith apart and our societies apart.
Even the unchanging Catholic Church was speaking of ditching Latin in the Mass and replacing it with the vernacular and that the old Gregorian Chant was in places being replaced by folk music, drums and nose whistles . . . according to the 3rd page of the LA Times: coincidentally, this was reported on the same day that JFK was assassinated. A connection between Heaven and Earth at a time when the Third Secret was supposed to be revealed to the world? It was not.
So it does seem to me that the world changed rather suddenly with the murder of JFK. It was as if we had lost our innocence and had experienced something deep within our souls that forever changed us as a people. It had awakened the truth that there is an ever-present evil in this world and, once again, our eyes became open to the fact that even blue skies are eclipsed by storm clouds with regularity. Even though we all know that should we rise above the clouds, a blue sky is still extant. However, from our vantage point, all seems rather dark and foreboding. Yes, the days of our parents are over and a much more evil and sinister world has now been placed in hands that were and are persistently unprepared for this global war on society: a war we are losing at present and, perhaps, a war we were not meant to win. For this is a war that is waged supernaturally in heaven and all we can do is resist evil and pray. We fight only to delay the inevitable. But even our seeming worthless resistance will be rewarded by the real victor of this War, Christ . . . lest Satan wins our souls for all eternity. Christ will not let that happen to those Who fight along side Him no matter our frailty or our inabilities. And our efforts to aid in that fight will not go unrewarded. For nobody is more generous than Our Lord.
Those of my generation, who have survived this age until now, are seeing evil as we never saw it before. In politics and in a lack of true stewardship of souls by our parishes and our clergy. So we again choose sides and resist and we send up our prayers for fortitude and wisdom. Whether this is the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning, we don’t know. But for us, it is the quintessential battle of our day. Good vs. Evil. And it is the battle that has raged from the beginning. It may be ended in my lifetime or far into the future. But we have our part to play in this battle. Let us not lose heart.
Absolutely wonderful piece of writing. Your topic, and the way in which you present it, is that nagging reminder that since The Fall, it has ever been so – evil is not some esoteric thought or something at a great distance from us. It is here; it is now; and how we deal with it is very telling – to us and to others. Stand firm. Fight the good fight. We know Jesus wins and through Him, we win. But the journey still holds dark pits and frightening surprise twists and turns. We must put the armor on and soldier on the best way we know how. Prayer and obedience.
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Indeed we are each put on a path and our journey is not done until either the path ends or we die while on the way. We are made to keep running, walking or crawling depending on our ability and there is rest to be had after our race is run. To find rest now is futile. It is not meant to be heaven on earth but for those on the earth who are might be raised to heaven. There will be an eternity for rest later; not now.
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This is a very moving post, Scoop. I think it may illustrate a profound difference between our two countries. My father, whose father fled Nazi Germany in 1938 along with other Jews, used to say he remembered the post war years here as grim ones of austerity, with food rationing and bombed our buildings in ruined cities. I think rationing did not end until 1955 here. He used to tell me that it wasn’t until the early 60s that he felt any sense of optimism. So it is fascinating to me to read your perspective. I wonder what C451 and Alys think?
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That’s an interesting observation Jess. Yes, there was that difference. Certainly as a child growing up in the 1950s I never felt part of some golden age. I was fortunate to miss the worst of the austerity, but its effects were still being felt.
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It seems understandable that there would be that difference. After all, the US had not been on the receiving end of bombing runs except for that first on in Pearl. Not much rebuilding to do here . . . just changing factories over to produce other types of goods.
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I doubt most Americans then or now were even aware how grim things were in Britain. As Scoop says, we were in the main, untouched materially by the war, other than the veterans amongst us and the families who had lost people, the war was itself mostly good times. We were, even by the standards then, an insular people, not paying all that much attention to the rest of the world. I doubt if 5 of a hundred Americans knew that rationing lasted in Britain until 1955, after all, it ended here a full decade before, almost before Japan surrendered. And even when I was in college, in the 70s, you had to make a real effort to get international news, and not many read the Economist or listened to the shortwave BBC.
In fact, it is still so, the UK press covers the US, not well but extensively, in the US, UK news is rarely heard, other than the Royal family, we do like the show.
I suspect most of our people thought we had done our part to restore the world with the Marshall Plan, and that it was their problem now. Well, that’s how we are with Americans, as well. Don’t like where you are, change. If most Americans were given their druthers, we’d just as soon the USG shank back to its size when Silent Cal was president and got off our lawns, and we assume all people feel that way. When HMG got intrusive, we threw them out and found it right and good to do so, if others feel differently, well, that’s why the US is better. Kind of hard really to argue with, assuming that for generations your compatriots were trained to believe this.
And that is the basic difference I see, compared to us, British and Europeans are ridiculously passive in the face of overweening government, which we know deep in our heart is best kept at the end of a ten-foot stick.
Guess that’s why we’re cousins, not brothers and sisters. 🙂
Outstanding article, Scoop.
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Thanks, NEO. Funny that Ike launched the Interstate Highway project in 1956 and it kept many people employed right up to today: the last of the sections being completed in 2018. It was a massive government project and in some respects government over-reach if we look at the idea of the role of government and the size of government; as the feds paid for 90% of the construction. Most folks don’t remember what it was like to traverse this vast country before the Interstate Highways; but I do. It was horrid because we are such a large nation. But it has paid for itself in our logistics of goods and the freshness of food from various places found year round in our groceries. I think you Nebraskans were the first to complete the Interstate in your state. It was a mammoth feat with thousands of tunnels, leveling of mountains and hills etc. But it has been the arteries that keep things flowing and help unite us as a nation. My first drive on an Interstate section of the Highway was memorable; a real joy.
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I agree. I remember those drives from NW Indiana to NW Minnesota on the old roads,barely make it into day, the Interstate made it a medium length day trip. Saved a lot of lives too, since we were no longer trying to pass semi’s on 2 lane highways. Paid for itself many times over. An excellent investment. Even though it was the death knell of passenger rail, which was only marginally faster than driving without its convenience. I suspect Eisenhower figured it out from between when he led a miliary convoy from the midwest to California in about 1920, which was the proximate cause of the Lincoln Highway, and then saw th the Autobahn at the end of the war. Infrastructure, although often corrupt and bloated, has usually paid for itself in this country.
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Indeed that convoy experience cemented Ike’s resolve to fix what he saw as a very big concern. Thank God for Ike and his forethought.
I do think that rail should make a comeback, not so much for transportation as much as I love it but for more freight runs. We are already starting to see the greatest highway system in the world outgrow itself and the semi traffic has gone up exponentially. There is definitely a place in our country for a revamped rail system but it is another huge project which in today’s dollars might be impossible due to our mountain of debt. That is not like to improve with Democratic leadership that only likes to keep us dependent on them. Choice, in transportation modes is a benefit to us all. And I would like rail to be updated and I would once again like to ride the rails rather than go through the rediculous invasion of privacy required at our airports.
I can see a great deal of jobs being created if we would only have the will to undertake this project.
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It could be better but the Staggers Act helped a lot. I see about 100 trains a day through here, and the various BNSF mains add quite a few more. The problem is getting the government out of the way, as always. The trouble with long haul rail (and I like it better than air, as well, is that it is simply too slow. When I go east, it takes about 36 hours, while flying takes about 6 or so depending on connections, and first class is cheaper than a sleeper. I think I read the diners are gone as well, so pack a lunch. Only driving is really acceptable anymore.
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As I have said many times, the war is on truth itself. This is what comes of favouring empiricism over rationalism.