- How it affects us.
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Whenever I lecture on "Tim's SENIOR MOMENTS," I remind the audience how lucky we have been to live in the times we did. Speaking as a Baby Boomer, I particularly rejoice in the music we experienced, not just the Beatles and the British Invasion, but entertainers like Jimi Hendrix who I had the pleasure of seeing in concert in 1968 (and changed my perspective of Rock and Roll). I saw many concerts along the way, including Sinatra in 1984. There was just something extraordinary in our music, but I also appreciated much of the music from earlier in the 20th century, particularly Jazz and Big Band. It was all so imaginative and amazing.
We were also lucky to witness Apollo 11, where we put the first man on the moon, as well as many others thereafter. I saw a wonder horse in 1973 win the Kentucky Derby on his way to winning the Triple Crown of horse racing for the first time in 25 years, Secretariat. In baseball, I had the privilege of watching the emergence of the Big Red Machine, an unbelievably talented team, rock solid in every position, and the likes of which we'll never see again. There were other sports greats, such as Mickey Mantel, Willie Mays, Joe Namath, and Dick Butkus who exhibited their greatness on and off the field.
We also bore witness to the go-go years of the 1960's and 1970's, led by the Greatest Generation. This was when it seemed only the sky was the limit, and computers began to transform offices. We didn't go out at lunchtime just to eat; such meals were used to plot strategy, forge relationships, and make deals. And, No, we were most definitely not politically correct by today's standards. It was fun, it was exhilarating, and I'm glad I didn't miss it.
Such events shaped our character in they represent the joys of life.
Unfortunately, good times are accompanied by bad-
As much as we like to remember the "good old days," we also faced considerable tragedy which shaped our perspective of life. In the lifetime of the Boomers, we watched havoc strike us time and again, both man-made and natural disasters.
1963 - The assassination of John F. Kennedy - this shocked the country considerably, both Democrats AND Republicans. To this day, those that lived during this period remember where they were when they heard the news. Some say America was never the same after this. We also saw assassination attempts on President Gerald Ford (1975), and President Ronald Reagan (1981).
1967 - The Apollo 1 fire, claimed the lives of Astronauts Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chaffee. Despite testing and precautions, we were to lose more people along the way, such as the 1986 Challenger Space Shuttle disaster, killing seven, and the 2003 Columbia Space Shuttle burning up on re-entry, also killing seven.
1979 - "The Who" concert disaster in Cincinnati - where eleven people were trampled to death due to "festival seating."
1983 - Beirut barracks bombings - resulting in the loss of 307 U.S. and French military personnel.
1986 - The Chernobyl disaster in Russia was a painful reminder of the dangers of nuclear energy. Others followed, such as the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.
1995 - Oklahoma City bombing - resulting in the loss of at least 168 lives.
1999 - Columbine High School mass shooting in Littleton, Colorado, where twelve students and one teacher were killed. This was followed by over 30 copycat shootings plaguing the country to this day.
2001 - The 9-11 Attacks represented the Pearl Harbor event of our generation and forced military action in the Middle East where thousands of U.S. soldiers died or were maimed.
Then there were the serial killers who terrorized whole cities, much like Jack the Ripper did in London during the late 1880's; Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Richard Speck, Charles Manson, and David Berkowitz (Son of Sam). There were also wackos like Mark David Chapman who gunned down legendary musician John Lennon in 1980.
We have always had disasters caused by Mother Earth. During our time, we've witnessed:
1964 - Alaska earthquake - registering at 9.2, it remains the most powerful earthquake recorded in North American history. Anchorage was particularly ravaged and 131 people perished.
1974 - Super Tornado Outbreak - the most violent tornado outbreak ever recorded with 30 F4/F5 tornadoes confirmed. Over two days, there were 148 tornadoes confirmed in 13 U.S. states and one Canadian province (Ontario). In particular, the city of Xenia, Ohio was wiped out by the dedliest individual tornado on record.
1980 - Mount St. Helens volcano eruption - which blew its stack in Washington state and covered the world with ash.
1992 - Hurricane Andrew - a Category 5 storm which decimated southern Florida.
2005 - Hurricane Katrina - another Cat 5 which crippled Louisiana.
2017 - Hurricane Irma - yet another Cat 5 which pummeled Puerto Rico.
We have also had our share of tornadoes:
1999 - Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak
2011 - Super Tornado Outbreak
There were also numerous wild fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, and blizzards. As to the latter, I survived the great 1967 Chicago blizzard.
People will talk about these natural phenomena for many years to come, and, NO, I do not blame it on climate change. We have been plagued by such natural disasters for as long as we have been a nation. For example, the bitter winter of 1777-78 was so harsh at Valley Forge that more than 1,000 soldiers perished.
What have we learned?
These tragedies killed and injured thousands of people, left many homeless, took a toll on our mental well-being, cost billions, and was an insurance nightmare. In many cases, it took mere moments to wreak havoc and considerable time to repair.
Whether it was a man-made or natural disaster, a lot of this could have been avoided, had we performed better planning. For example, civil engineers long knew the weaknesses of the dikes and levees protecting New Orleans prior to Hurricane Katrina, yet politicians diverted money to other projects. Had the Secret Service insisted on affixing the roof of President Kennedy's limousine, we wouldn't have suffered such a traumatic event.
Instead of planning and being pro-active, Americans prefer to be reactive and allow havoc to strike as opposed to preventing it. There are many examples of this throughout our history, including Pearl Harbor, 9-11, and the Challenger disaster.
We do not like to remember such tragedies, but such events also shape our character, just as much as the joys of life, as it affects our senses of empathy, charity, our will to survive and overcome, and learn from our mistakes. To illustrate, it is impressive to see how Americans lend a generous hand to those maimed by disaster. As soon as a disaster hits, such as a major hurricane, we see Americans mobilize and come to their neighbor's aid in boats, bringing supplies, clearing debris, repairing homes, and much more.
The only good thing you can say about how Americans react to tragedy is that it brings out the best in us.
It is when we forget about these disasters that we court their repetition.
Keep the Faith!
P.S. - Also do not forget my new books, "How to Run a Nonprofit" and "Tim's Senior Moments", both available in Printed and eBook form.
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
For Tim's columns, see: timbryce.com
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