BOOM "Baby Boomers Wanted"
Episode 1 - Don't Play With Things That Go Boom
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“Baby Boomers Wanted”
Growing up I used to think of myself as just a common, regular, ordinary guy. But as I got older I found out I was something special … very, very special.
So special in fact that demographers – whatever they were – came up with a name to describe me.
They called me a baby boomer.
Now that meant I was one of those kids born shortly after World War II. There were a little over 70 million of us.
Okay, maybe we weren’t all that special.
But we happened to be hanging around having a good time when that Vietnam War thing started.
That war went on year after year after year and the country realized they needed soldiers.
Lots and lots of soldiers.
The politicians looked around and there we were — the Baby Boomers.
We were the perfect choice to fill the ranks in the military.
BEING A BABY BOOMER
Now before I tell you how they got us I should give you a little background about what being a Baby Boomer meant to me.
Now we Baby Boomers were the very first generation in history that grew up with the babysitter of all babysitters — television.
I’m old enough to remember the first TV set that arrived on our block.
We went over to a neighbor’s house to look at it in operation. The screen was small but it was also magical.
It wasn’t long before we got one of those those little boxes for our ourselves. We set it in the living room and readjusted the furniture so everyone could look at it at the same time.
We not only adjusted the furniture but we also adjusted our lives because if there was a program you wanted to watch you had to do it on their schedule, not yours.
So, like many in my generation, my mind was filled with Howdy Doody, the Lone Ranger, Rin Tin Tin, the Mouseketeers, Zoro, My Three Sons, Our Miss Brooks, the Cisco Kid, and Mr. Ed, to name just a few.
But my babysitter did something else, and this is important for my story.
Through movies, documentaries, sitcoms, and dramas my babysitter gave me the impression that my country’s military was a force for good.
It had saved us from enemies seeking to destroy the world during Word War II and it now stood as a sentinel to protect us from the very real enemy that was seeking to destroy us in the present day — Communism.
Movies like Sergeant York, Casablanca, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, Twelve O’Clock High, Mr. Roberts, and The D.I. gave a very positive image of our country.
TV shows like West Point Story or Annapolis Story, Francis the Talking Mule, No time for Sergeants, Operation Petticoat, McCale’s Navy, Hogan’s Heroes and Combat did the same.
I still drop by YouTube sometimes to check out old episodes of the Phil Silver’s Show just to see what Sgt. Bilko is up to.
By the time I graduated from high school, my babysitter had shown me scores and scores of movies and TV shows about the military, and I learned that our military was good and our country was good.
THE MUSHROOM CLOUD
There was another thing we Baby Boomers became aware of as we grew up.
We were the very first generation raised with this thing called “global nuclear war.” It wasn’t just a theoretical idea. It was a reality.
We had the bomb.
And so did they.
My babysitter made sure I saw pictures of above ground nuclear tests on TV.
Specially constructed towns were filled with mannequins and we watched Mrs. Mannequin serve breakfast to Mr. Mannequin and her two children — boy mannequin and girl mannequin.
What can I say?
Back then we thought there were just boys and girls.
We heard the countdown, and then we heard the explosion, and saw the wind from the atomic blast level their home, their fictitious town, obliterating everything, leaving only the mushroom cloud.
This Baby Boomer — me — realized I could be vaporized in just a few seconds.
That thought was reinforced in our monthly nuclear attack drills.
You heard me right.
I lived in L.A. which was considered a prime target of a Russian nuclear attack and every month the warning sirens would ring throughout the city.
Radio stations joined the test, broadcasting instructions they would give if it were a real nuclear attack.
Now in elementary school not only did we have fire drills and earthquake drills — I did live in L.A. remember — but we also had nuclear attack drills.
We huddled under our desks and were told how to position ourselves away from the windows and never to look at the blast, otherwise our eyes might melt right in their sockets.
Then there were the bomb shelters.
Now we lived in a poor neighborhood so no one I knew was able to build a bomb shelter for protection from a nuclear attack. Or if they did, they didn’t let us know about it.
But I had read the book Hiroshima by John Hersey and I wasn’t sure surviving a nuclear attack was that great of an option.
And where would this attack come from?
There was no question.
The Soviets made it very clear they were going to spread their vision of Communism throughout the world even if that meant a conflict with the United States.
I can remember the Cuban Missile Crises when we thought nuclear war was a very real possibility.
The local grocery stores had been cleaned out because people were preparing for the attack.
A LITTLE HISTORY
As I grew up I developed a love of history.
One of the things I noticed in my studies is that people, we humans, had this penchant for engaging in wars.
Wars were not an unusual activity.
Even in America wars seemed to be a part of life.
Before we became a country there was the French and Indian War.
Less than a decade later there was the American Revolution.
The next generation had to deal with the War of 1812.
There was a war with the Barbary Pirates. There were Indian wars, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the war of my generation — the Vietnam War.
It seemed that just about every generation had to deal with a war.
And some had to deal with multiple wars in their lifetime.
War just is not an unusual activity.
And here I was about to graduate from high school and the war of my generation was being fought.
Did that mean it was my turn to go to war?
LESSONS FROM MY DAYS IN OLIVE DRAB
Right now I’d like to share a lesson from my time before I got my official olive drab outfit from the United States Army.
The lesson is …
be careful what you choose to fill your mind with.
The news, the music, the literature, the movies, the social media that you consume will impact your world view. It will help form what you think is right or wrong, helpful or harmful, good or evil.
In today’s world especially, consider what stories you’re putting into your mind. What are you letting shape your beliefs and your value system?
The Bible tells us …
“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable … if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things.”
Look at what you are choosing to put into your mind.
Does it meet God’s standards?
IN THE NEXT EPISODE
In the next episode I’m going to share with you how the government got us Baby Boomers to become part of the military.
I’ll give you a hint.
For many it was this thing called the draft.