Friday, April 18, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Mark Shields: A maligned generation

This past Monday night, along with 680 other lucky people in Washington’s historic Ford’s Theatre, I was able to enjoy the wit and wisdom of America’s dominant political satirist, Mark Russell.

His humor is as timeless as Twain’s and as topical as tonight’s 11 o’clock news. The crowd, many of them still processing word of the impending retirement of Pope Benedict XVI, heard Russell support the election of Ghana’s Cardinal Peter Turkson: “I’m rooting for that African cardinal. Too bad he has enemies spreading rumors that he was born in Hawaii.”
A former Marine himself, Mark Russell expressed no objection to the decision to allow gays to serve openly in the Corps. The only real change he has seen: Now each morning, the Marine bugler, instead of sounding reveille, “plays show tunes.”
The current House of Representatives is chronically incapable of reaching an accommodation. Even though a large majority on Capitol Hill supported making Cinco de Mayo, the annual celebration of Mexican heritage, a holiday, they “couldn’t agree on a date.”
But there is authentic wisdom in this humor. Speaking self-deprecatingly of his own generation, those born between 1925 and 1945, Russell observed: Sandwiched between the deservedly heralded Greatest Generation (1900-1924) and the over-ballyhooed Baby Boomer Generation (1946-1964), “we did not have a title. We had no label. … We wore T-shirts. But we were so dull we did not have enough imagination to put any message” on our plain, white T-shirts.
After the self-regarding baby boomers came the even more highly educated and skeptical Generation X, which has been succeeded by the economically struggling, but instant-communicating, Millennials.
Actually, Mark Russell’s (and my) age cohort did have a name. Time magazine called us the Silent Generation, and it stuck. Unlike the Greatest Generation, we did not fight and win World War II. We were too young. But unlike the boomers, we were children of the Depression and the War and we learned — some would say, were brainwashed — to submerge our own wants and needs to the common good. Korea was our generation’s war, but half of us were too young for it.
Still, the “Silents” were mercifully free of self-esteem and, luckily, not addicted to self-expression. We were taught and — yes, mostly silently — accepted self-sacrifice. Three out of four of our era’s males wore the country’s uniform in military service. Remember that in 1955 the U.S. military, then numbering nearly 3 million, was more than twice as large as it is today. This was at a time when the entire national draft pool barely totaled 7 million.
We were not terribly introspective because, I would submit, nobody told us how damn “interesting” we were, and precious few of us came to that conclusion independently.
We were not, I concede, remotely as sensitive as the generation that followed ours. Many, if not most, of us actually bought our elders’ argument that what matters in the final analysis is what you give rather than what you get. America would have to wait, because we were not up to it, for a liberated and enlightened generation who could elevate non-judgmentalism and uninhibited tolerance to high cosmic values.
Unlike the boomers — Bill Clinton and George W. Bush— and the Greatest Generation — JFK, LBJ, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and G.H.W. Bush — the Silent Generation failed to produce a U.S. president. But we did produce Martin Luther King Jr, Robert Kennedy, Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood.
This, of course, turns out as always to be the price you pay for spending a couple of hours with the relentlessly provocative Mark Russell: Whether you want to or not, he makes you laugh, and he makes you think.

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at creators.com.

Distributed by creators.com 
Copyright 2013 Mark  Shields

Special to the Democrat

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

.

News

Goodbye LUPPU, hello LRPU

By Chris Daley | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
Past due state taxes bring arrest

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1

 
Sanford trial: Prosecution, defense rest

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Woman, dog back from Oso

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1, 6 Comments | Gallery

 
 
 
DA candidate to remain on ballot

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A9

Dog talk with Uncle Matty: Benji and the Bickersons

By Matthew Margolis | From Page: A10

 
CPCSD seat unfilled

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A14, 1 Comment

Lew Uhler backs Ranalli

By News Release | From Page: A14, 1 Comment

 
.

Opinion

Something to think about: Teach your children well

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A6

 
Retain Bill Schultz as Recorder-Clerk

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A6, 3 Comments

 
.

Letters

District 4 candidate

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7, 3 Comments

 
Open meetings

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

Volunteers and homeless camps

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7, 7 Comments

 
Bicycle events and traffic control

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

Evacuation

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7, 3 Comments

 
.

Sports

Savannah Stephens can swing the bat

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
King of the West roars into Placerville

By Gary Thomas | From Page: A11

First and goal: Bunt etiquette

By Mike Bush | From Page: A11

 
Oak Ridge suffers tough 2-1 setback

By Mike Bush | From Page: A11

Jennings wins national title

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A11, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Roundup: April 17, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A12 | Gallery

.

Prospecting

Plantastic sale this Saturday

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Spring art brightens government center

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Things to do: April 18, 2014

By Democrat Calendar | From Page: B2

 
Time out: A grand time at Grand China

By Earle Camembert | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Temple Kol Shalom hosts Passover Seder

By News Release | From Page: B3

 
Student art featured for Third Saturday

By News Release | From Page: B3

Promenade in high style

By Historic Old Sacramento | From Page: B4

 
Sac State Presents ‘Gypsy’

By California State Unversity, Sacramento | From Page: B4

Friday nights are engaging at the de Young

By Fine Arts | From Page: B5

 
Hats On For the Kids raises money for children

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B6

See what is inside the vault

By Center For Sacramento History | From Page: B6

 
Eggstravaganza

By Fairytale Town | From Page: B6

Gallery tips a hat to Dr. Seuss

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B7

 
Museum presents ‘Diesel Days’

By California State Railroad Museum | From Page: B7

Engagement: Adam Frega and Wednesday Bienusa

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B8

 
Duty: Air Force Airman Brian Polk

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B8

Cal Stage presents a season of challenging productions

By California Stage | From Page: B8

 
Duty: Army Pfc. Kyle W. Beasy

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B8

KVIE calls for artists

By Kvie | From Page: B9

 
A Couple of Blaguards tell tales

By Harris Center for the Arts | From Page: B9

America’s ClayFest II celebrates a rich history

By Blue Line Arts | From Page: B14

 
Fine Arts Museums feature two shows

By Fine Arts | From Page: B15

See wildflowers on train ride

By Railtown | From Page: B15

 
Easter at Northstar is family friendly

By Northstar California | From Page: B15

.

Essentials

Crime Log: March 28-30

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

 
.

Obituaries

Arthur W. Cornell

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Frank “Bud” Kraus Jr.

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Roy Cluness Chaix

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Frederick Wilbur Heymann

By Contributor | From Page: A2

.

Real Estate

Faster sales with spring staging

By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4

 
Coldwell Banker outsells the competition

Press Release | From Page: HS7

Handsome Redmond suits modern families

Press Release | From Page: HS11

 
Growing your own

By Marni Jameson | From Page: HS14

 
Fraud workshop scheduled

Press Release | From Page: HS21

HCD launches assistance program

Press Release | From Page: HS22, 1 Comment

 
EZ Mortgages Inc. opens Placerville office

By News Release | From Page: HS22, 2 Comments

.

Comics

Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A13

 
Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A13

Shoe

By Contributor | From Page: A13

 
Rubes

By Contributor | From Page: A13

Tundra

By Contributor | From Page: A13

 
TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A13

Sudoku

By Contributor | From Page: A13

 
.

Home Source

Faster sales with spring staging

By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4

Coldwell Banker outsells the competition

Press Release | From Page: HS7

Handsome Redmond suits modern families

Press Release | From Page: HS11

Growing your own

By Marni Jameson | From Page: HS14

Fraud workshop scheduled

Press Release | From Page: HS21

HCD launches assistance program

Press Release | From Page: HS22, 1 Comment

EZ Mortgages Inc. opens Placerville office

By News Release | From Page: HS22, 2 Comments