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Tag Archive: Baby Boomers

Jun 09

Do you remember D-Day? Do Generations X, Y and Z?

“Normandy is marked by the landings. It is inscribed in people’s hearts, in memories, in stone, in rebuilding, in memorial plaques, in street names, everywhere.” –the Rev. Rene-Denis Lemaigre, priest of Lisieux.

Do you remember D-Day? It happened 67 years ago this week, on June 6, 1944, to be exact. On that day the world witnessed the Allied invasion of Normandy and the beginning of the liberation of Europe and the end of World War II.

But do we remember? Some of us do or at least remember being told about it by our parents or grandparents, or we might remember studying it in school.

Some of us don’t, however.

Most baby boomers, including myself, are the children of those who lived during the World War II era, and some are their grandchildren.

It is the Generations X (born mid-60s to 1982), Y (called Echo Boomers born mid-70s and up) and Z (born approximately 1991 to the 2000s) that worry me. Do they know about D-Day? Are we doing our job in helping them remember?

Regrettably, this pivotal moment in history passed by this week with relatively little fanfare.

I find this sad.

Missouri native Gen. Omar Bradley, commander of the US 1st Army at Normandy, said after the war that he never failed to remember D-Day. “I have returned many times to honor the valiant men who died…every man who set foot on Omaha Beach was a hero.”

Still, I wonder if generations two and three times removed from “the greatest generation that ever lived” remember or even know about D-Day. Broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw coined the term, “The Greatest Generation”, in his book of the same name published in 1998, saying: “It is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced.”

And what they did to preserve freedom for generations to follow, it seems to me, should have a little more “to do” made about it.

Brokaw’s book discussed how that generation served, not for personal gain, but because they believed it was the right thing to do. These men and women came home after the war and set to work to make America the leader of the free world, a prosperous nation, and a superpower.

I wasn’t exactly sure how much I remembered myself, so I began researching D-Day. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was “rusty” on the subject.

Here are some staggering facts and inspirational observations that I found that may astound you as well.

“What a plan,” said British Prime Minister Winston Churchill addressing the House of Commons on June 6, 1944. “This vast operation is undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever taken place.”

Indeed it was.

More than 155,000 young Allied troops from the United States, Great Britain and Canada waded through the chest-high water and climbed the cliffs to storm the beaches of Normandy, France.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower sent these brave men into combat in Operation Overlord with these words:

“The eyes of the world are upon you, the hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed people of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one. …[but] the tide has turned, the free men of the world are marching together to victory.”

The beaches of Normandy were named with these code words: Juno, Gold, Omaha, Utah, and Sword.

Prior to the invasion, Allied forces practiced their roles for D-Day for months along the southern coast of England. Also, the Allies conducted a deception operation called Operation Fortitude aimed at misleading the Germans about the date and place of the actual D-Day invasion.

By August after the D-Day invasion in June, the 12th Army Group, comprised of four field armies, had swollen to more than 900,000 men and was the largest group of American soldiers to ever serve under one field commander. That commander was Gen. Omar Bradley, a native of Clark, Missouri, who graduated from Moberly High School.

D-Day numbers are staggering: 2395 aircraft, 867 gliders, and 6939 naval vessels. By June 11 (D-day plus 5 as it is called), there were 326,547 troops, 54,186 vehicles and 104,428 tons of supplies that had been landed on the beaches of Normandy.

According to the British Portsmouth Museum, there were millions more men and women in the Allied countries who were involved in the preparations for D-Day. They played thousands of different roles, both in the armed forces and as civilians.

To commemorate these heroes, what can you do to remember and to pass on their legacy?

To begin, visit the National D-Day Memorial website at d-day.org or dday-overlord.com for a wealth of historical information.

Commemorate D-Day by watching the few movies available that attempt to illustrate the intensity of the invasion of Normandy: Band of Brothers, The Big Red One, The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan.

And most importantly, shake a hand of a veteran and say thank you to all who sacrificed their lives gladly for their neighbors and for us on that momentous Day–June 6, 1944.

Let us not forget.

Sep 16

In recessions, hula hoop comes to the rescue

“When the world is in kind of a messy way and people are unhappy, something like the (hula) hoop lets them just forget everything while they go crazy for a minute or two spinning around.” –Barry Shapiro, vice president of Wham-O Toy, 1982.

Can you still hula hoop?

Do you remember the hula hoop fad in the late 50s and again in the early 80s? It might be making a comeback now because, just like then, we are in a recession and that means it is time to dust off the hula hoop and start swirling those hips.

Why? “You just can’t help but laugh and smile when you’re hooping,” says Marisa Tomei, Academy Award-winning actress and star of a new ‘hooping’ fitness video.

If the recession is making you frown, then perhaps the hula hoop will make you smile again like it did in previous recessions and loose a few pounds in the process.

When we were kids, we took to it naturally. Anyone can do it, right? I wonder if I still can without landing in the chiropractor’s office.

At age 11, I could whirl it around my waist or spin it around my arms or neck for as long as I wanted. So could my friends. Most adults could not. It baffled my parents, as I recall, but it made them smile.

The hula hoop was first introduced during an economic recession in 1958. It was a simple 4 ft.-wide plastic hoop that came in a variety of colors and cost less than $2.00. It became an instant rage. Some consider it still the greatest fad this country has ever seen.

It was one of those inventions that made its creators, Richard P. Knerr and Arthur K. Melin, rich indeed, and left the rest of us wondering why we had not thought of it ourselves.

The fad was short lived, however.

By the time I attended college in the sixties, the hula hoop craze was over.

Fast forward 25 years to the early eighties when a severe recession hit. That particular recession was complete with high interest rates and a drought that ruined crops. Farms and businesses went bankrupt. People were unhappy.

Re-enter the hula hoop.

Wham-O, the Australian company that originally produced the hula hoop, decided to try to make a comeback in 1982 saying, “Wham-O believes that the current economic troubles may be just what is needed to give the Hula Hoop another whirl.”

Twenty-five years after the original hula hoop craze, Time Magazine wrote in 1982, “that during a slightly mad six-month period 25 years ago (in the fifties), as many as 120 million hoops were sold around the world.”

Wham-O believed it might be time to try it again.

The 1982 model, according to a Time Magazine story was known as the “Peppermint Hula Hoop” because it was peppermint-scented and striped like a barbershop pole. It made people happy during hard times. I remember that one, too.

Regrettably, that fad was even shorter-lived.

And now here we are again in a nasty recession, and whammo (pardon the pun) here comes the hula hoop to save the day, once again. This time in the new fitness craze called ‘hooping’, as Marissa Tomei explained.

Hmmm. I wonder if I can remember how to hoop.

Let’s see, first you have to bend your knees slightly. Put the hula hoop around your waist and start moving your hips in a gyrating, whirling circular motion to keep the hoop up.

Bend my arthritic knees slightly? Move my bad hip in circles over and over?

I don’t think so.

I see why my parents stood back and watched.

Sep 02

Can you still remember 8th grade math?

“Can you do Division? Divide a loaf by a knife – what’s the answer to that?” –Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

If you are a baby boomer, you may remember more about eighth grade math than you think, and you can probably do it without a calculator.

You can figure percentage, solve long division problems and know what a remainder is. You can recite quite a few multiplication tables, recall a little something about “casting out nines”, and know “pi” (3.14) the number that goes on forever.

Ask your kids and grandkids to sit down with a piece of paper and pencil and try to solve a square root problem or even a long division one without their calculators. Well, let us just say I am betting on you.

Boomers, can you remember the eighth grade math definition of “square root”? Answer–the square root of a number is another number that when multiplied by itself gives you the first number.

I thought I forgot that definition, but once I pondered it awhile, there it was. Perhaps it was because in my era, memorizing math definitions was akin to learning the Preamble to the Constitution by heart.

Required, no exceptions granted.

Of course you will remember the dreaded 8th grade word problems, such as the quisentential classic: “A passenger train leaves the Philadelphia train depot 2 hours after a freight train from Boston leaves the same depot. The freight train is traveling 20 mph slower than the passenger train. Find the rate of each train, if the passenger train overtakes the freight train in three hours”.

Eventually, I learned that where the freight train originated had absolutely nothing to do with solving the problem.

Occasionally in 8th grade math some trick, fun questions were interspersed with the serious ones: “How many times can you subtract 7 from 83, and what is left afterwards?” Answer: “You can subtract it as many times as you want, and it leaves 76 every time.”

Do you feel like saying the Three Stooges famed line about now? “N’yuk, N’yuk, N’yuk.

It is Ok, go ahead.

Today, simple math just doesn’t seem the same to me—too high tech and too convoluted.

The Dilbert cartoon series I think agreed when it once noted that our (math) problems today are “similar to our automated sadistic phone system…for tech support, press the exact value of 22 divided by 7”.

Say again?

Never mind, grab a piece of paper and a pencil as I leave you with this problem to ponder. No calculators allowed.

Problem: 5.5 squared is between 16 and 25, less than 16, greater than 36, or between 25 and 36.

Answer: N’yuk, N’yuk, N’yuk.

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