Passing the Torch: Can the Next Generation Be Even Greater?

passing the torch


I am one of the millions of Americans who are known as baby boomers. We are the sons and daughters of America’s Greatest Generation, those men and women who grew up during the Great Depression, fought valiantly and won World War II, and are responsible for much of the growth in our country during the twentieth century. These hard-working people not only survived but thrived in an ever-changing world filled with despair, war, and a constant threat of nuclear war during the Cold War.

America’s Greatest Generation was also filled with men and women who would marry, work hard, raise families, and instill in their children a work ethic that showed them that anything was possible through hard work. They preached honesty, integrity, compassion, empathy, and the need to give freely of their time and talents to support their church, their schools, the companies they worked for, and those groups to which they felt attached.

As children, we were taught to respect our elders, teachers, the police and firemen, and anyone in authority. We were also told that if you wanted something, you worked for it. If you were into sports, being on a team was not a given; in many instances you had to “make the team” and, if you did, there was no guarantee of playing time or trophies. Most of us will tell you that it was a great time to be growing up in America. Many of our parents gave of their time as coaches, Boy and Girl Scout leaders, PTA members, and many other social causes. We were taught that it was important to not only take care of our family but also to be a contributor to the communities in which we worked and lived.

Our parents had lived hard lives and brought about great change in our country through hard work and determination. In November of 1960, America elected John F. Kennedy as its new president. The new young president had grown up in a privileged family, but had also served the country in WWII and as a congressman and senator before his election. In his inaugural speech, the young president spoke about the legacy of the American Revolution as well as America’s Greatest generation:

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human right to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

As a member of the next generation I was taught about the importance of service, and in my adult life I would like to think that I and millions of others just like me carried on that tradition throughout our lives.

However, here we are in the twenty-first century and it appears that everywhere you look many of our great institutions are struggling. Our country is in political chaos, and churches, our veterans, and the homeless continue to suffer. Crime is up and, in general, plain old respect for one another seems to be out of fashion.

These changes are also being felt a great deal in our wonderful world of the sport of purebred dogs. Competition in every aspect of the dog world has grown and become a global phenomenon, yet many clubs continue to struggle to survive.

I am sure there are many reasons why this is happening, but let us just talk about a few. As a member of various dog clubs for 50 years, I can tell you that in many clubs those of us baby boomers who have been working for them are getting old and there has been no significant entrance by younger generations to join and get involved.

In some cases, there is a divide between the show and performance worlds. Why is that? Don’t we all care about our dogs and what they can achieve? Having letters before and after a dog’s name is a good thing, and we need to learn to work together for the sport and the future of the purebred dog.

I also believe one of the