Baby Boomers: It is time to pass the torch to younger folks
I am a Baby Boomer (one of those born between 1946 to 1964). I grew up in Alpena and fondly recall dining at Tubby’s, Lud’s, Dave and Jim’s Pizza, shopping downtown at J.C. Penney’s, Montgomery Wards, Gately’s, Kotwicki’s, and Vaughn’s department stores, and attending teen dances at the Blue Light, located in the Alpena Armory.
I attended Alpena High School, then located on 1st Avenue, which was opened in 1942. It was a behemoth concrete structure surrounded by an adjacent music and theater complex and numerous prefabricated temporary classrooms.
Our generation grew up in the Northeast Michigan region’s rapid manufacturing, service, education, health care industries and population growth of the 1950s and 1960s.
As we entered the 1960s, we faced a strong American divide of a Catholic vs. Protestant (Kennedy vs. Nixon) vying for president, an unpopular Vietnam war, inner city strife, the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, as well as Martin Luther King and Malcom X, and the Apollo space
crew landing on the moon some 239,000 miles (one way) from Earth. The invention of the transistor began to significantly change communications and entertainment.
Positive legislative changes occurred in that decade for voting and housing rights. Versus earlier generations, we began to find ourselves and push things to the edge. The birth control pill evolved into mainstay use.
And Baby Boomers literally made the cover of a 1967 Time magazine.
The 1970s continued with the unpopular war, which, when it ended in 1975, had claimed nearly 2,800 Michigan residents. We experienced a gasoline and beef meat shortage, saw a president resign in disgrace and corruption, and 40 Americans were captured by Iranians at the Tehran U.S. embassy.
The Beatles disbanded and the disco era entered. And we celebrated the first Earth Day.
During this decade, enhanced women’s rights were passed within federal and state legislation.
The 1980s brought a global televised viewing of a British royal wedding, the emergence of MTV and video games, the tragic loss of life with the space shuttle Challenger explosion, the growth of Reaganomics and conservatism, and the personal computer began to enter households and business firms.
Federal legislation concentrated upon deficit reduction and Medicaid changes.
As the 1990s entered, over 75 million Baby Boomers still offered economic and leadership relevance. However, the population numbers would be eclipsed by Gen Xers, Millennials, and later, Gen Z.
We Baby Boomers sought to change the way things are done and make the world better. It was idealism at the highest level.
We are now at a point for our generation to mentor and respect those following us.
In simplicity, it is time for baby boomers to begin passing the torch so these generations with high hopes and ideas can pick up on topics where we left off.
The to-do list is endless, and includes, in part, addressing global and national health care, education, housing, racial disparity, work force skill development, focus on our military and veteran affairs, realization that America grew on an immigration base, addressing various religious faiths and non-faiths, terrorism, a fragile planet’s ecology exhibiting violent changes, water and food supply and distribution, and the downright meanness between political and varied audiences.
The local mission must be to make Northeast Michigan an even more desirable place to live and grow in. I cherish I grew up in this wonderful region with great citizens.
For my part, I know you can do it.
So register and vote. These new generations must become engaged in local, state, and federal politics and policies.
Ignore party alliance. Just find a mission and topic you believe in and go lead.
Jeffrey D. Brasie is a retired health care CEO and frequently writes historic feature stories and op-eds. He is a former Alpena County resident and resides in suburban Detroit.