Baby Boomers brought about a different value system to this world. Some are quick to point out the generation’s disregard for authority and widespread experimentation with mind-altering substances. While that’s ambiguously correct, it also discounts all the amazing things Boomers witnessed. Here are 7 influential events that shaped Baby Boomers.
“I still have a dream, a dream deeply rooted in the American dream – one day this nation will rise up and live up to its creed, ‘We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal.'” These poetic words, spoken by the great Martin Luther King in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, were the spark that lit the civil rights movement. For Boomers, this wasn’t just a monumental event we studied in our history books years after it happened. We actually got to witness the civil rights movement as it swept our nation and changed our history for the better.
It’s hard to remember a time when the Beatles weren’t the cultural and musical icons they are today, but many of us Boomers were lucky enough to actually see their meteoric rise to fame in real time. In fact, a lot of us actually got to watch them on the Ed Sullivan Show back in 1964. Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
In the immortal words of Neil Armstrong: “That’s one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind.” Indeed, life as we know it would never be the same after we watched the moon landing. Over 600 million of us tuned in to watch this televised event, now immortalized in history books. It was certainly one of the highlights of this Boomer’s life and a memory I still hold near and dear to my heart even today.
The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, signed by then-president Dwight Eisenhower, gave rise to interstates. 41,000 miles of them, in fact! While it’s hard to remember a time before there were interstates, we Boomers actually got to witness them come into existence and change the way we traveled forever.
Nowadays, kids are immunized against polio at a young age, but the polio vaccine didn’t exist until 1955. The effects of polio were devastating, and many of those afflicted were dependent on wheelchairs, leg braces, or even iron lungs for survival. The vaccine helped to slow the spread of polio. In fact, by 1994, it was considered to be eliminated in both North and South America. Thank goodness for Dr. Salk and his vaccine! It helped the Baby Boomer generation and many generations to come.
In March of 1959, history was made in the form of an eleven-inch doll with blonde hair and blue eyes. Produced by Mattel, Barbie was an instant sensation. Even today, she lines the shelves of toy stores everywhere. In fact, over a billion Barbies have been sold worldwide since her introduction in 1959!
A lot of us depend on stores like Kmart and Walmart for our weekly grocery shopping, but back when us Baby Boomers were kids, those things weren’t as common. In fact, we actually witnessed the advent of retail chains! In 1962, both Kmart and Walmart opened their doors for the first time. If you were a Boomer living in Detroit or Bentonville, Arkansas around this time, you might’ve actually been lucky enough to shop at the original stores!
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Originally published March 23, 2023
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