Things have changed in my almost-80 years

Published 9:07 am Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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I’ll be 80 years old in January. I’ve lived a long time. There are obituaries for many who lived until they were over 90 now-a-days. There are also obituaries for those who have left way to soon.

80 years is a long time and a lot has changed since I was born. There’s been several generations of Americans over the last 80 years.

Being born in 1945, I just missed being a Baby Boomer by a year. I was included in the Silent Generation. Following Baby Boomers in chronological order are Generation X, Generation Y (Millennials), and Generation Z. The newest generational group, Generation Alpha, includes those born between 2010 and 2024.

Each of the generations is a little bit different. As a small kid, I remember going to a neighbor’s house to see a TV. My parents listened to the radio and read the newspaper. News was not instantaneous.

When I got older, we got a TV and my parents watched “I Love Lucy.” They still read the newspaper, particularly the comics. I watched TV a little but my parents mostly put me out to play with the other kids.

I couldn’t even begin to imagine what the future could bring. I had my first calculator in college and was amazed at how well it worked. It evolved and made my slide rule obsolete.

Color TV, computers, smart phones, the internet, streaming and social media were science fiction to me when I was a little kid. They were things I couldn’t imagine happening but they did.

Over the years, each generation was a little different than the previous and people talked about how much people have changed and how different the latest generation is.

What they don’t talk about is how much they have changed. When I was young, I was wild and brainless. I didn’t do what was best for me. Thank God I eventually grew up and became a responsible person.

I was discharged from the United States Air Force in 1967. In the following years I paid attention to the Vietnam War and the protests which were taking place. The protests went on for several years and peaked when four students were killed and nine wounded at Kent State in 1970.

The recent pro-Palestinian protests don’t compare to the Vietnam protests in degree or length but demonstrate that our young people still know how to protest. I believe it points out problems with some colleges and immigration concerns which need be addressed.

I’m pretty sure everyone changes as they get older. I’ve become more conservative in my beliefs. As a young person, my beliefs were more progressive.

America has evolved and changed over the years but is still the United States of America.  The culture and principles that guide our lives have changed and the population is much more diverse.

In many ways, I would like to wind back the clock. I believe social media and news customized to an individual’s belief can do harm to America. That’s me being old.

Al Klemm is a Washington resident and former Beaufort County Commissioner.