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Friday, March 19, 2010


I recently watched bits and pieces of a documentary about the “Baby Boomer” Generation, of which I, like many of you, am a member in good standing.  According to Tom Brokaw, one of the major factors that “shaped” our generation was a cold, rainy, muddy, music festival called “Woodstock”! 


Now; I don’t doubt that “Woodstock” actually happened; I’ve seen the pictures; but as for shaping an entire generation; I don’t think so!  I am told that with all the alcohol and drugs, only about half of the 400,000 who were there actually remember being there; and that includes most of the 32 bands and 100+ musicians!


That 400,000 people actually found their way to Max Yasgur’s 600 acre dairy farm, southwest of Woodstock, New York, is somewhat amazing to me; but the “baby boomer” generation is also the “If there’s a will; there’s a way” generation; and I do think that in 1969 we, our generation, were in search of ourselves, in search of an identity; and the music of that era, the 50s, 60s and 70s was certainly as good and as strong in its message and meaning, as anything we have heard since. And, while I fondly, very fondly, remember much of that music; as a part of my life; I am not sure that it actually “shaped” me or my life to any extent; and, if that music did figure in to who I am today, it was certainly a “bit player” in the overall scheme of things.


 I am, like every other baby boomer, a product of my heritage, my upbringing, and my early life experiences.  My parents and grandparents were the most important people in my life; the ones who taught me about life and had the strongest influence on who I am and how I think today. As farmers in western Minnesota; my grandparents taught me a love of the land along with the importance of being good stewards of that land. As veterans of World War II, Korea and the early years of Viet Nam, my father and five of my uncles taught me duty, patriotism and a love of country that can and does bring me to tears of pride and thanks as I acknowledge, sometimes in disbelief, the many blessings we have received; and the sacrifices others have made to keep us a free and blessed country.


The women in my early life, my grandmothers and my mother were all better educated than their husbands. They were all strong, intelligent, hard-working women; and all obvious and equal partners with their husbands.


While I certainly don’t feel that my life was pre-planned or pre-destined in any way; I do think that most of my generation, the children of America’s “Greatest Generation”; will agree that we just knew that certain things were expected; responsibilities to be accepted, adventures to be undertaken, promises made and promises kept,  sacrifices made for those we loved. And the progression of our lives, through good and bad, sometimes regardless of our original hopes and dreams, still seemed somehow right; and at the age of 21, I became a husband, a father, a college graduate and a United States Marine.


Like everyone of my generation, I have grown as a person over the years, each day built on the day before, beginning with the values and ideals that were passed on and instilled in me during my childhood; a belief in God,  the importance of family, responsibility for our actions , a respect for others and their beliefs, and a love of country; a pure, unabashed, complete and total, love of country.


God Bless those who made us who and what we are today. God Bless the United States of America. I’m Joel Swanson, and that is my comment for today.

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