We were born at the end of World War II to a generation that had just won a war against pure evil. We were their hope for a brighter future. The forbearers of a new era. An era of peace and prosperity. An era of fun. We had hula-hoops, silly putty, slinkies and slip ‘n slides. We ate Spaghetti-o’s, Alphabits, TV dinners and Spam. We watched Ed Sullivan, I Love Lucy, The Flintstones and American Bandstand. We witnessed the first manned space flight and prayed for Apollo 13. We saw a man step onto the moon and suffered through the tragedy of the space shuttle Challenger. We danced the jitterbug, the mashed potato and the twist and listened to Murray the K, Porky Chedwick, and Wolfman Jack. We brought you the Beatles, Motown, Bob Dylan, Sonny & Cher, Rock and Roll, R&B and Woodstock. We inspired movies like Grease, The Graduate, Animal House, and American Graffiti and TV shows like Happy Days, Laugh-In, The Wonder Years and Saturday Night Live. We were there when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat and we saw the first black students walk into their federally desegregated college. We heard Martin Luther King say “I have a dream” and then we watched as he was gunned down. We witnessed the murders of JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald, Bobby Kennedy and John Lennon and the premature deaths of Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Elvis.
But, through all of this, what stood out most of all, what came into our living rooms night after night right along with Bonanza and The Wonderful World of Disney, was war. A war that was happening half way across the world complete with visions of napalmed children, self-immolating monks and huge helicopters flying over palm trees. We asked our parents what was going on but they didn’t have very good answers. We asked our teachers the same question but never got very satisfactory replies. Then as we got older and started demanding to know what you were doing over there, you said, “None of your business. Shut up and register for the draft.” It didn’t take long before it was us you were sending over there and we were forced to take to the streets shouting, “Hell no, we won’t go,” and singing, “All we are saying is give peace a chance.” We dropped out, grew our hair, dressed, danced, sang, played music, made love, got high and changed all the rules with only one thing in mind– to get your attention and show you that it’s possible to end war and live in peace. And when we were done, it was over. We had won. Do you know who we are? We’re Greasers, Hoods, Beatniks, Long Hairs, Freaks, Hippies and Yuppies.
Now there’s a new war. Well, it’s not really new. It’s the same old song and dance, really. The same old lies and fabrications. Just history repeating itself thanks to those who, if they ever did learn it, seem to have forgotten. So once again, millions of us all over the world tried to tell you, “Hell no, we won’t go,” and “Please, please give peace a chance.” But you didn’t listen. You invaded a country. You destroyed homes, cities, schools, power plants, palaces, museums and hospitals. You killed thousands and thousands of innocent people and hundreds of good kids who were willing to give their lives for their country. And this time, when we asked you why, you told us it was to give them something you call “freedom”. But, you see, we don’t think the kind of freedom you’re talking about is actually real freedom at all. In fact, we don’t think the people in that country are feeling anything that even remotely resembles freedom right now. We think they’re feeling devastated. We think they’re feeling fear and horror. We think they’re wondering where their children are and where they’re going to sleep tonight and how they’re going to get food and water and shelter from the sweltering desert sun. And we’re almost positive that if they did this to us, you wouldn’t call it freedom. You’d call it terrorism. Oh, and one other thing. A long time ago there were these smart men who, unlike you, cared about our country and its future. And they predicted that people like you would come along and try to use something called a “military-industrial complex” to acquire even more money than you already had. We don’t know exactly what that is but it sounds a lot like what you’re doing when you give huge, expensive contracts to your friends to re-build things that you actually destroyed.
So here’s the thing. We’re tired of being lied to over and over, day after day, while the rest of the world looks on in pity and disgust and we’d just like you to know a few things. We think your war stinks. It stinks of lies and greed and murder and stupidity. There’s no honor, no truth, no accountability, no remorse. In college we learned that people like you are called sociopaths but we think you’re just plain evil. So we just wanted to give you a heads up and let you know–we’re baaaaack. That’s right. Remember us? The Hippies and the Freaks? Well, we’re the Baby Boomers now. And, guess what? We’re all grown up and we have money–and not only that, one of us is going to be the next president. So fasten your seat belts kids. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride. And any day now you’re going to figure out that things aren’t as hunky-dory as you thought they were because, as much as you tried to pull the wool over everybody’s eyes and get rich quick off your dirty little war, it just ain’t gonna happen. Why? Because, plain and simple, you’re messing with the wrong generation.
BECKY BURGWIN’s writing has appeared in Newsweek, Time, New York Magazine, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Tribune Review as well as several online Op Ed sites. She is also involved in gay rights, women’s issues and the environment. She lives in Pittsburgh with her family.