Not to take anything away from the “Greatest Generation” — the generation that fought for our freedom in World War II — but the generation in which I was born, my generation, has seen a lot.
I was born in January 1961. Before I would celebrate my first birthday President John F. Kennedy gave the okay for the disastrous Bay of Pigs Invasion into Cuba and committed the U.S. to landing a man on the Moon.
Two years later Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a dream speech” and President Kennedy was assassinated.
In 1964 three civil rights workers were murdered in Philadelphia, congress authorized war against North Vietnam, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law.
The war in Vietnam roared on and in 1968 Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy were both assassinated.
Then on July 20, 1969 American Astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the Moon and uttered the immortal words “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” That same year Hurricane Camille devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast and became the standard by which storms would be measured.
The year I turned 10 Walt Disney World opened in Orlando, Vietnam continued to occupy the evening news as it would until 1975, and the United States was poised to enter the Watergate era which would lead to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.
In 1976, we Americans celebrated our Bicentennial and Jimmy Carter, the oldest living president today, would claim the White House.
Elvis Presley died in 1977 and fans invaded Memphis and his Graceland home.
The later 70s were kind of quiet except I graduated high school in 1979 and the great Easter Flood devastated portions of Mississippi. Then in 1980 former Beatle John Lennon was murdered in New York and the volcano Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington State.
In 1981 a previously unknown killer, the AIDS virus, also untreatable at the time, was identified and President Ronald Reagan survived after being shot in an assassination attempt.
Cyanide laced Tylenol was killing Americans in 1982 and that changed the way that over-the-counter medications were packaged forever. In 1983 the Pearl River was again outside her banks flooding the metro Jackson area.
In 1986 millions of Americans watched as the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on live television 73 seconds after liftoff from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
The late 80s and early 90s seemed kind of quiet too until along came President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky and Americans again were glued to the evening news as a presidential impeachment played out.
In 1997 we were all shocked when the first school shooting occurred at Pearl High School where Luke Woodham killed two fellow students and wounded seven others, having already killed his mother at home. Sadly, school killings are almost common occurrences these days.
With the arrival of the new millennium in 2000 the world seemed a different place. Americans were attacked by foreign terrorist on home soil on September 11, 2001 and then there was another Space Shuttle disaster when Columbia disintegrated upon re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere.
In the last 20 years we have seen earthquakes, a tsunami, devastating wildfires, the new hurricane standard bearer named Katrina, and the war against terrorism continues today. We’ve seen the Great Recession and tornadoes and floods and sorts of things we nevered dreamed of seeing 50 years ago including yet another presidential impeachment trial play out on national television just this year.
And now we have this. Now we have a worldwide pandemic. We’ve sheltered at home. We’re wearing face masks in public and our hands are raw from washing and sanitizing.
We’ve seen a lot, this generation has. We’ve lived through a lot. We’ve survived a whole lot, and we shall once again! Hang in there.