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Jeb Bladine: A generation that transcends gender

Generations keep coming and going ... they evolve, get named and, ultimately, are judged by history.

Youngest members of the G.I. Generation — dubbed “The Greatest Generation” by Tom Brokaw — will turn 92 this year. They grew up during the Great Depression, fought World War II and raised the post-war population bulge of Baby Boomers.

Much history of the G.I. Generation focuses on the veterans, mostly men, but any serious look at the age group reveals the abiding strength of its women. Brokaw wrote:

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Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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“The enduring contributions of this generation transcend gender … through the war and into the years of rebuilding and unparalleled progress on almost every front, women were essential to and leaders in the greatest national mobilization of resources and spirit the country had ever known … they raised the place of their gender to new heights; they changed forever the perception and the reality of women in all the disciplines of American life.”

When author Gael Fashingbauer Cooper lost her mother, she reminisced, “There will never be another generation of moms like the one she belonged to … As Shakespeare’s Hamlet said of his father, we shall not look upon their like again.”

Writer Regina Brett, while acknowledging men who “saved the world from tyranny and terror,” wrote: “Women do something more vital than those markers show. They hold the space. They form that fine line connecting all those markers. Countless invisible women make sure that line stretches on into infinity, into children and grandchildren, into nieces and nephews and beyond.”

From Mackenzie Dawson, in the New York Post: “These women, they got on with it. They were humble. There’s a quiet elegance to that, which seems absolutely amazing now in an age of selfies and Facebook and Instagram and Twitter … As these ladies of the Greatest Generation leave us, it’s hard not to see them as giants. Giants who were women.”

I grew up surrounded by such women. They were the homemakers, and no one doubted their importance to families, neighborhoods and the community. Without great fanfare, they were strong and distinctive, smart and talented, sociable and caring, and hugely influential.

Those thoughts arose after recent deaths of Marian Peterson and Marilyn (Mike) Peery, remembered from a childhood blessed with many moms from other houses on the block. Eleanor Macy, Marjorie Colvin, Virginia Elliott and Betty Engle come to mind.

Successive generations of women, and men, can look back in appreciation.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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