I am swift approaching the age of 60. I was born in the middle of the last century..a baby boomer like so many others conceived in the aftermath and the promise of peace following the Second World War. Of course, there has been relatively little peace per se since then. We live in a rapidly changing world that many of us find so hard to keep up with or to understand. It was this thinking that started me to reflect..what IF I was born in 1900?
I would have been born when there was barely 8,000 cars and 144 miles of paved road in America. Radio was in it's infancy. The Boer war was still going on in South Africa. By the time I was 5 the Japanese & Russians had a scuffle. I would haved turned 6 when a terrible earthquake devastated San Francisco and the Titanic went down as I approached my teens. As a teenager I followed the carnage in far-off Flanders as the First World War raged. I would probably have lost an uncle..a brother..or a father at this time. I would also witness the Russian Revolution!
As a young man I would have watched prohibition make rum-runners rich and gangsters greedy in Chicago and elsewhere. I would have laughed with Chaplin and the Keystone Kops in the silent movie theatres. I would stop laughing when the world sunk into a depression and may have lost my job..or farm..or family. I may have ridden the rails with millions of desperate men. Perhaps I paid a nickel to watch Al Jolsen sing on the screen!
When I approached 40 the world went to war again. From Poland to Pearl Harbour; from Treblinka to Tobruk another 50 million people died. If I made through this slaughter, I would have watched the Chinese Revolution take place...and the Korean Conflict would soon raise it's ugly head.
At this juncture the "other" ME was born and together the 1900 me (52 now!) would watch television come of age. JFK would soon promise a "man on the moon"..and then he would be shot. Sadly, and all to soon, MLK and RFK would follow. Men WOULD walk on the moon by 1969...but over 60,000 young Americans would die in Vietnam..along with a million Vietnamese. The fall of Saigon was soon followed with the killing fields of Cambodia and Pol Pot.
My 1900 me is still alive at this juncture and has witnessed all HIS history and now mine. Perhaps he makes it as far as the First Gulf War..and dies? A long and interesting life that saw many, many changes indeed. From horses pulling carts to computers; from steamships to dune buggies on the moon!
I am glad he did not witness ethnic cleansing in Bosnia..or the butchery in Rwanda. 9/11 would have broke his heart and Iraq and Afghanistan and tsunamis and Haiti and Japan today would have broke his spirit.
I hope it doesn't break ours!
(I've attached some George S. Patton poems to this article..as I feel his words and experiences sum up a lot of the 20th Century)