The Greatest Generation Part 1
“The Greatest Generation was formed first by the Great Depression.
They shared everything—meals, jobs and clothing.”
The “Greatest Generation” also known as the GI Generation and the World War II Generation were born between 1905-1924. Yep that would be my Nannie’s generation. While gathering all the information for this blog, I’m amazed at the history that they had front row seats to. Obviously, my generation overlapped but to know the amount of history that my grandmother had going on around her and her witnessing with her two eyes continues to amaze me. And it also explains why she was the way that she was a lot of the time.
My grandmother also went through the Great Depression. Dr. Glen Holl Elder Jr wrote: Children of the Great Depression made it through their adult years well. These children came out of the Great Depression knowing how to survive, make do and solve problems. They were very strong supports of the American way. They held families together, made commitments and kept promises. There were also 56.6 million live birth. These children were known as Baby Boomers (www.oreilly.com).
The adults from the Greatest Generation had the largest rise in schooling ever recorded. In midlife they built suburbs, invented vaccines, plugged missile gaps and launch moon rockets (www.lifecourse.com). In the 1930s, food was so scarce because the Great Depression happened while the Dust Bowl which ruined crops. Most people were so poor that the philosophy “hold on to what you have” was a statement of safety. No one knew how long either issue would last. So, had they not learned to hoard possessions lack of survival was almost imminent. These beliefs and cycle for way of living was perpetrated (www.postconsumers.com).
Naturally as one who has been in the mental health system most of my life, I wonder how their mental health issues were dealt with. Baby Boomers grew up in a time when mental health issues were not discussed nor acknowledged. Conditions such as anorexia, bulimia, ADHD, PTSD, autism, and learning disabilities were unheard of and depression and anxiety were signs of weakness (www.workhealthlife.com). Boomers were people who just tough things out and not asking for help. Likewise, this generation learned from the Greatest Generation this type of outlook on mental health. I can remember my Nannie saying when I asked what was wrong with someone, “Oh they’re just deaf and dumb. Just stay away from them.” I always thought that was harsh way of looking at things, but I guess that’s the only view they knew to take. I’m glad people have been educated and that my coach doesn’t feel that way.
I have made a list of some of the main events in history that my 86-year-old grandmother was able to experience and live through in history. This is in no way a complete list but one worth looking through. Writing about this has stirred every emotion in me both good and bad. Enjoy a little walk through history that my grandmother experienced in this great nation.
1919-1929 Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, HerbertHoover
Woman gained the right to vote
KKK began terrorizing the nation
Birth of radio
Insulin was mass produced
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day began
The Spirit of St. Louis, Charles Linburgh
Mickey Mouse was debuted on Steamboat Willie
1930-1939 Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt
The New Deal
Black Sunday 7,000 died from pneumonia from the Dust Bowl
The Golden Gate Bridge was built
Rise of Nazi Germany
Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass)
World War II begins
1940-1949 Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman
Mt. Rushmore was completed
Pearl Harbor was attacked
Anne Frank died
Hitler commits suicide
Nuremberg trial *12 Nazi leaders hanged*
Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl was published
Ghandi was assassinated
1950-1951 Harry Truman, Dwight D Eisenhower
Truman orders the development of hydrogen bomb
Korean War begins
Assassination attempt on President Truman
Dwight D Eisenhower inaugurated
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
*Unanimously bans racial segregation in public school
Inoculation of children against polio
Martin Luther King Jr leads boycott of Montgomery, AL bus system
Eisenhower sends troops to protect school integration
Little Rock Nine
Civil Rights Act of 1957
Vietnam War begins
Castro takes over as President of Cuba
The Civil Right Movement makes me sick to my stomach knowing how people treated other people during this time. I can’t justify any of this. All I can do is shake my head. The world, our nation and the Deep South has been through a time of growth for many years. I can only hope that this growth continues from these times presented to you. May God bless our nation.
One individual can begin a movement that turns the tide of history. Martin Luther King in the civil rights movement, Mahatma Gandhi in India, Nelson Mandela in South Africa are examples of people standing up with courage and non-violence to bring about needed changes.