On this, the first day of my eighth decade (my seventieth birthday), numerous thoughts and remembrances rattle around. Foremost is how fortunate I have been during my lifetime. Much of this good fortune has been do to others or factors beyond my control. Some of these factors and people include:
- Parents. My parents were caring and espoused and practiced solid values which guided me along my way.
- Health. My parents were healthy and had long-life genes. These apparently were passed on to me as I remain healthy despite living harder than either of them did.
- Timing. I was born in a sweet spot in history. Born during WWII, I was too young to serve in the Korean War and fortunate to never have been called to active duty in Vietnam.
- Place. I was also born in a sweet place — the United States of America — during its glory days. Had I been born at a different time or even at the same time in a different location, my life would have been much different and more difficult. My path was easy compared to that of my ancestors and contemporaries born elsewhere. Liberty and opportunity abounded during much of my life.
- Education. I attended schools when they still taught subject matter, not political correctness or “self esteem.” Grades had meaning as did behavior. Children were praised and punished based on performance. Winners were still allowed and recognized.
- Respect. Elders were respected as were most other things. Warming meant the opportunity to swim, not some scare tactic for tin pot despots to assume more control over the lives of others.
- Values. I grew up in a small northern New Jersey town twelve miles from New York City. The town was primarily middle-class with unusually solid values. Sports played a large part in my early life. I learned the highs of victory and the lows of defeat, experiences that have been helpful in life.
- Crime. I was never victimized by crime or even exposed to it. Drugs were literally unknown until I went off to college.
- Friendship. Friendships from my hometown had a profound influence on shaping us all. In June of this year, about 20% of the males from our graduating high school class will get together for a week to revisit our past. Some of us will play a little golf and all of us will reminisce. High school events and achievements will be exaggerated. This year represents the twelfth consecutive year that we have gotten together for camaraderie and memories. Most of us are bound together by a commonality of experiences from Kindergarten through high school. Our skills in exaggerating old times improve each year. As the past becomes more meaningful and memories grow too old to object, it is easy to glorify the “old days.”
- Opportunity. My life included the greatest period of productivity and wealth creation the world has ever known. Life has been easier for me and the rest of my generation than it will likely be for our successors. We have all been made better by the existence of ample opportunities.
- Wife. I married well, with a wife who has been a wonderful partner, companion and source of support.
- Children. We have two wonderful children who turned out better than we dared expect. They have absorbed our and their grandparents values rather than succumb to the siren songs of contemporary society. We are blessed with two healthy grandchildren with a third one due at the end of next month. I could not be happier regarding how our children turned out and the manner in which they are raising their childre
So what now? I am healthy, reasonably sound of mind and always looking for a challenge. Members of my generation and the preceding one allowed this country to become a mess by enabling politicians in their quest to be served rather than serve. Lincoln’s phrase, “of the people, by the people and for the people,” if it were ever true is nothing but a mockery of government as it exists today. I shall expend whatever time and strength I am granted in remedying the political corruption and domination of our once great nation.
I need no better motivation for such a task than my role a a grandparent. Aging it is said makes one wiser. Perhaps. It certainly makes one more nostalgic. Nostalgia requires revisiting the past. When one does so, the present and the future do not stack up well. Young people today face a vastly constrained set of opportunities than my generation. Do I not owe it to my grandchildren and their grandchildren that they be afforded better opportunity?
Aging also makes it easier to accept Patrick Henry’s directive: “Give me Liberty or give me Death!” I look forward to the future and the crisis that is inevitable. I hope that I can serve in some productive manner to right the wrongs that have been done to this country.
King George was benevolent in comparison to what we now endure.