It’s been too long since we last heard from Laura Armstrong. Laura is the daughter of the legendary Vietnam War hero Roger (“Black Bart”) Bartholomew, and a hero in her own right as far as we at Power Line are concerned. As such, she is particularly well situated to comment on my take on Dean Barnett’s Weekly Standard cover story “The 9/11 generation.” Laura writes:
I read with interest your generational observations, Boomers vs. 9/11 generation.
I’m 46 — too young for Vietnam (though you might remember I spoke in WSJ.com about the Vietnamization of this war back in 2004 and John Kerry, which Paul commented on in Power Line). I’m on the tail end of being a Boomer, born in 1961.
My contemporaries and I were just old enough to remember the turmoil of the sixties, but too young to participate. Our parents were the silent majority, tsk-tsking the “hippies” at the dinner table, too old to participate in the Summer of Love, just trying to earn a living and keep us away from a world gone mod. We saw Munich, Entebbe, the Achille Lauro and other terrorism-related events. We watched Navy diver Robert Dean Stetham sacrifice for us in 1985, during the takeover of TWA flight 847. His name comes freely to mind, even after 22 years.
When we went to college in the late ’70s, we knew we were there to learn, not to protest. We were the impressionable generation in elementary school when Americans walked on the moon. They were heroes, and we were too young to be cynics. We watched the space shuttle land safely for the first time while in college, and many of us realized space travel would be a reality for us. Unlike the seemingly untouchable astronauts of the Apollo days, we knew (even the girls) we could actually attain that job, or any other, if we just wanted it and worked hard.
We were also the group who saw the remnants of a troubled, post-Vietnam military, savaged by the left (opportunists like Kerry) and wrongly regarded as pathetic by most. Jimmy Carter almost broke that military, but it was the young men of my generation who joined anyway because they were patriots DESPITE the boomers who tried to tell us service to this country was a joke. Those same boomers went on to take from this country in so many ways, while never giving back. And those optimists who joined and made the service their career are the ones who lead us today.
Most of all, we watched our embassy held hostage in Iran, and we cried when American soldiers were tragically killed during a rescue attempt.
We were the Reagan generation, watching from our dorms as his impending presidency ended Nightline’s neverending daily countdown. Reagan talked to us about the Shining City on the Hill, the Boys of Point du Hoc, and tearing down the wall. We listened.
I absolutely believe that military families hand down their ideals of service. But I also believe my generation understands today’s threat in a way the average Boomer cannot (because his facts are so clouded by his experiences in the 60s). And it’s our kids who’re out there on the front lines as second lieutenants and gunnery sergeants, having been raised to believe our country’s ideals are worth fighting for.
I only hope the aging hippies, socialists, Che-lovers, etc. will begin dying off before they do much more damage. It’s time for the Reagan kids to have their turn.
Laura B. Armstrong