G.I. Generation

The G.I. Generation is the generation of Americans that fought and won World War II, later to become the Establishment and the parents who had a generation gap with their Boomer children. The generation is also known as the Greatest Generation (after Tom Brokaw's book), the World War II Generation, the Veteran Generation, the Depression Generation, Builders, and the Traditional Generation or Traditionalists. The name "G.I. Generation" was coined by William Strauss and Neil Howe for their book Generations, who put its birthdates from 1901 to 1924, although some, including Brokaw, confine it to approximately the later-born half of this segment, the earlier half sometimes being referred to by an alternate label, the Interbellum Generation. The term G.I. refers to an enlisted person in or a veteran of any of the U.S. armed forces, especially a person enlisted in the army.

Their typical grandparents were of the Progressive Generation. Their parents were of the Missionary Generation and Lost Generation. Their children were of the Silent Generation and Baby boomers. Their typical grandchildren were of Generation X and Generation Y. Their Great Grand Children are Generation Z.

A sample list of famous G.I.s with birth and death dates include:

A list of cultural endowments of the G.I.s includes the following:

The G.I.s held a plurality in the House from 1953 to 1975, a plurality in the Senate from 1959 to 1979, and a majority in the Supreme Court from 1967 to 1991.

There have been seven G.I. Presidents. Here are their birth dates (and death dates for those that have died):

From youth to old age, the babies of the twentieth century's first decade commanded the admiration and generosity of older and younger generations. They became America's first Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and half a century later, America's first senior citizens. At the other boundary, the babies of 1923 and 1924 were just old enough to be drafted, trained, and shipped to Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima in time to join in the heaviest fighting; those born a year or two later were in line to fight battles that never came. George H. W. Bush was among the youngest fighter pilots of World War II; he was only 20 when he and his Grumman Avenger fighter plane were shot down over ChiChi Jima. The next President, Bill Clinton, only saw World War II through history books and film clips.

The unstoppable energy of the G.I.s is well characterized in their most enduring comic book character: Superman. Superman became famous just before World War II occurred and the G.I.s themselves began showing "powers and abilities beyond those of mortal men". Do you need to eradicate poverty, build model cities, tame business cycles, or beat Nazis and Communists at their own game? Step aside, this is a job for Superpower America -- and a generation willing, in Kennedy's words, to "bear any burden, pay any price" to accomplish whatever goal it sets.

After the war, G.I.s built suburban tract housing. In the early 1950s, when the typical 35-year-old's income was $3,000 per year, mortgage rates were 4 percent, and a new Levittown home sold for $7,000 ($350 down and $30 per month).

No generation born before or since has felt or been so Promethean, so godlike in its collective, world-bending power. G.I.s invented, perfected, and stockpiled the atomic bomb, a weapon so muscular and deadly that it changed world history forever.

Foreign Peers

Preceded by:
Lost Generation
G.I. Generation
Succeeded by:
Silent Generation

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