My parents’ generation dreamed big and accomplished much. They were members of what has been called, “The Greatest Generation.” My father was born in the second decade of the 20th Century in a country that had just entered the world stage during World War 1. During his lifetime, he
- saw the Great Depression begin and end.
- fought in World War II (North Africa).
- witnessed aviation progress from Charles Lindbergh’s historic flight across the Atlantic to daily non-stop jet service to and from nearly every major city on the planet.
- experienced the birth of nuclear energy -- both nuclear weapons and commercial nuclear power.
- benefitted from the development of antibiotics, the near-eradication of polio, and the end of smallpox.
- saw rockets progress from being Robert Goddard’s curious ‘invention’ to taking people to the Moon and the launch of Voyager.
- rode in the family Model T and later the family’s air conditioned Buick on the nation’s interstate highway system.
- listened to a crystal radio as a boy and watched color television as an adult.
- the list goes on, and on, and on...
I’m not saying that we aren't inventing new things today or that even the pace of innovation has slowed, which I don’t believe it has. I am saying that we don’t seem to be doing the BIG things anymore. Yes, the internet and cell phones are revolutionary, but they pale in comparison to the quality of life improvements made by the previous generation.
Many seem to think that our best days are behind us and that we should therefore diminish our expectations. After all, our industrial base is declining, the middle class is shrinking and we are in so much debt that all we can do is maintain our social programs – ambitious projects are just not affordable anymore. To this I say, “nuts!” These problems are miniscule compared to those facing the country when my father was a young man and look at what he and his generation accomplished!
The future can be better than today, and it is up to us to make that happen. Now is not the time to diminish our expectations. Rather, now is the time to dream big, tackle BIG and ambitious new projects, and make tomorrow better than today.
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