Wasn’t it yesterday that we graduated from the University of Washington?

Our Vietnam generation came of age in 1969 with the threat of military service hovering in the background. In 1965, combat troops were deployed to Vietnam. Young men strove to keep their grades up in order to avoid the draft. Women faced a revolution of their own. Whether we lived in sororities, in the dormitories or at home, women faced stringent rules, but as the sexual revolution and women’s movement evolved, we had more freedom to make choices regarding our bodies.

We also had the opportunity to design our own coursework; we were no longer limited to secretarial, nursing or teaching careers.

We became aware of the political scene on campus and off. Many of us attended Robert Kennedy’s political rally at the University of Washington on March 26, 1968. An attitude change developed on campus. We searched for a balance of power between the university and us, the students. We became involved in a revolution against the status quo.

Robert F. Kennedy, seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, speaks to 10,000 at Edmundson Pavilion on the University of Washington campus. After a brief statement, Kennedy takes questions from UW students. (Seattle Times archive, 1968)
Robert F. Kennedy, seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, speaks to 10,000 at Edmundson Pavilion on the University of Washington campus. After a brief statement, Kennedy takes questions from UW students. (Seattle Times archive, 1968)

Our son remarked that we baby boomers were from the best generation; we experienced the political unrest, the Vietnam protests, the civil rights movement, the music, the sexual revolution, the women’s movement, the chaos. I disagree. We were exploring a world that none of us understood and attempting to create some semblance of order within our lives so that we could move forward.

However, we were bearing witness to history. A history that undeniably shaped the world and who we would become as adults, leaders, professionals and listeners. And, for some of us, a history that demanded we refrain from being passive witnesses to what occurs around us, and engage with the world and make decisions on how we choose to record and remember our lives.

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So where do we go from here?

'My take'

Got something to say about a topic in the news? We’re looking for personal essays with strong opinions. Send your submission of no more than 500 words to oped@seattletimes.com with the subject line “My Take.”

Given our current political environment, embrace diversity and create understanding among all of us. We baby boomers still have mountains to climb and bridges to ford. Revive your engagement with the world around you. Use your resources to resume your political and social involvement, to record your personal stories, to mentor others, to remain active in sports or activities which you enjoy, and to seek justice regardless of your political affiliation. Your voice remains valid.

We have not passed on, so live each day to the fullest and be the best that you can to all the people you meet. Carpe diem!