Every generation has some sort of nickname either justly or mockingly used to label its collective spirit. America sorted through a “Gilded Age” of extravagant wealth, a “Lost Generation” of young people struggling to find an identity after the first World War, and championed “The Greatest Generation” of Americans who grew up during the Depression, fought racism in World War II, and then brought America into a golden age of peace and prosperity.
Recently, the term “Generation X” has been applied to the generation of Americans who pulverized their brains on MTV and ecstasy, but who also ushered in a new era of social understanding as the world grew smaller during the expansion of the Internet.
This past Tuesday, America’s new president spoke on change at home and abroad.
For this small business owner and soon-to-be father, the event signaled a change not only in leadership, but the dawn of a new day for young Americans. Obama spoke about the challenges previous generations faced like fascism and communism and told us that greatness is not inherited, but earned. Challenges are not defeated with tanks and power, but with humility, restraint, and by building “sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.”
Like JFK’s immortal words, “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans,” Obama’s message inspired confidence and served as a call to action. Born of mixed decent at the tail end of the Baby Boom and just before Generation X, Obama not only links races, but generations.
No longer will Generation X be considered irresponsible kids who went through college on their parents’ credit before destroying America’s economy by overextending their paychecks on flat screen TVs and overpriced homes, but rather those who showed the world that hard work, compassion, and new ideas lead to mankind’s greatest triumphs.
What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
– Barack Obama