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: THE DEFINING GENERATION is a project begun by Doug and Pam Sterner in 2002 and completed in 2006. Initially is was prepared for publication as a book, however with their changing focus to development of a database of military awards, was postponed indefinitely so they could concentrate on that larger, more important work. The stories found herein however, need to be shared, and they have consented to make this compilation available in this format. While each story can stand alone, it is recommended that for continuity, readers will be best served by reading the chapters sequentially from first to last.


The Defining Generation


Defining Entertainment

Troubled Waters

It is sometimes reported in history that upon meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe during the American Civil War, President Lincoln greeted her with the words, " So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!" If fact, there is no evidence that indeed the President uttered that line. Nevertheless the rumor of that thought that has endured for more than a century does in fact illustrate the validity of another common quotation, "The pen is mightier than the sword," or the simple precept that the things which entertain us may also motivate us.

Throughout the history of the human race talented people have been highly prized for their talents with word, pen, and music that can provide diversion from the tragedies of society, or even from the mundane existence of daily life. Entertainment is a critical part of our development as individuals and as societies. From the early scribes who penned the history of ancient civilizations to the performers of P.T. Barnum's early circuses, men, women, and children have found fascination, humor and diversion in entertainment.

While the primary function of entertainment is just that…diversion from every day life…there is a history wherein entertainment has often served as a call to activism. The pen of Thomas Paine incited patriotic calls for revolution in 1775 and, during the darkest early year of the American Revolutionary War, sustained the populace with stirring accounts of freedom fighters. The oratorical skills of Frederick Douglas addressed the wrongness of slavery and Harriet Beecher Stowe's now-famous novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin" certainly fanned flames of passion that erupted in a Civil War to abolish slavery. Newspapers flourished in the late 19th century, not simply as a means of reading to stay abreast of current events, but as a form of entertainment. Embellishments of competing newspapers in the late 1800s with headlines that would rival today's tabloids resulted in what we have come to know as Yellow Journalism. In 1898 American society hung on every story printed about events in Cuba, including outlandish tales of the nation's Spanish rulers cannibalizing the local populace, much like later generations would be fascinated with the story of Hannibal Lecter. Such entertaining stories made taking our nation to war with Spain a much more acceptable task.

To be fair however, historically activist-entertainment has usually been a very minor part of the entertainment industry. Logging camps stories of legendary heroes or scary boogiemen were designed only to break the boredom of lonely nights. Dime store novels of Wild West cowboys, while often based upon true characters, were written with usually fun but fictitious story lines to captivate the attention of young boys. Romance novels gave young girls the perfect love to hope for, and married women the idyllic romance they wished they could have found.

Every generation has developed and welcomed its own genre of entertainment, usually pushing the boundaries of acceptability. During medieval periods when court jesters, the stand up comedians of the era, failed to draw appropriate laughter or crossed the boundaries of appropriateness (like insulting the Royal Family), punishment could be swift and deadly. Not so in later years as entertainment continued to evolve and as artisans pushed the envelope. It is also generally true that as each generation developed its own brand of entertainment, at least for the last century it was frowned upon by an older generation that asked rhetorically, "What's this younger generation coming to."

There can be little doubt that young people coming of age in the Roaring Twenties shocked and dismayed their own parents, perhaps no less than their grandchildren growing up in the 1960s shocked and dismayed the children of those same Flappers who grew up during a heady time of fun and frolic. But the carefree world of that period came to an abrupt halt when our nation was plunged into the deep tragedy of the Great Depression in 1929. Over the next decade the one diversion from pain, poverty and hunger was the Saturdays on which a child could scrounge a nickel and enjoy a comedic hour on the big screen of the local theater.

If the comedy of Charlie Chaplain, the Three Stooges, the Little Rascals, and others helped a generation of children born in the 1920s forget momentarily the pain of the 1930s, when those same children came of age it was to face a world at war. Art came to imitate life, or perhaps define it, as the United States Government reached out to Radio City and Hollywood to bolster the war effort. So pervasive was its influence that even today one can seldom hear a big band tune without subliminally being carried back to World War II. Those who today rue an activist Hollywood industry might do well to recall those years from 1941 to 1945 when such activism by American movie stars played a critical role in saving our world.

Among the first of these movies which often combined entertainment with a message was the early 7-part series directed primarily by Frank Capra and titled "Why We Fight." The true intent of these films is nowhere more evident than the closing lines containing the quotation of Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, "The victory of the democracies can only be complete with utter defeat of the war machines of Germany and Japan ." The patriotic fervor aroused by such heroic soldiers on film as Henry Fonda, Robert Montgomery, and others including John Wayne who became perhaps the all-time epitome of the American soldier, sailor and Marine, fanned flames of passion and inspired young men and women to volunteer for service. Other actors like Robert Montgomery, Jason Robards, and even Lee Powell who had inspired a late depression-era crowd as the Lone Ranger, chose to serve in uniform.

So thoroughly was the movie entertainment business intertwined with the military effort to save our world, the U.S. Army Air Forces leased the California studios of Hal Roach. Known ubiquitously as " Fort Roach ," more than 400 films were produced in a joint Army/Hollywood program of entertainment, inspiration, training, and indeed propaganda. Many of the actors were themselves reserve members of the military like Ronald Reagan and Alan Ladd. Army Air Force reservist Clark Gable even flew in heavy bombers over Europe to film for an Air Force recruiting film titled "Combat America."

That the entertainment industry became critical to the successful prosecution of World War II is undeniable. The patriotism of Tinsel Town was untarnished by those in its population whose political leanings were socialistic; after all, during those critical years the Soviet Union was a tenuous but necessary ally. That physical war however, was followed by the Cold War in which we found our nation competing in an arms race with Russia . The McCarthy hearings of the early '50s that singled out the Hollywood Ten and others sent a cold chill through the entertainment industry. For the next ten years an actor or actress pushing the envelope, whether in film or even in a private conversation, faced swift retribution nearly as deadly as the fate of a not-so-funny medieval court jester.

War movies remained popular in the 1950s as the Greatest Generation justly recalled and celebrated their achievements in the World War. Unlike most such movies produced during the war when the heroic man in uniform was often the "unknown but patriotic farm boy from Kansas " young men in the audience could identify with, these new war stories often TRUE stories, not necessarily intended to motivate volunteerism, but to remember real people and real events. These were enjoyable films without the pressure of a personal call to service. Some, like 1959's Operation Petticoat even presented war with a humorous twist, as did the popular early TV war programs like Sergeant Bilko and the early 1960's McHale's Navy.

Increasingly also, that new medium of television boomed in those post-war decades. Young boys and girls of the Defining Generation thrilled every Saturday morning to the inspiring, All-American stories of The Lone Ranger, Superman, and the pleasant singing and positive messages of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Sunday evenings were filled with tunes reminiscent of World War II on Lawrence Welk, and the Wonderful World of Walt Disney.  Monday through Friday television's evening Family Hour literally defined the word "family" according to the American Dream. "Leave it to Beaver," "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," and "Father Knows Best" taught us how we were supposed to live as Americans. Though plot-lines changed the underlying theme was always the same. In the ideal American home dad worked hard for a living while mom did the domestic chores in her well-equipped modern kitchen, and the kids studied in school to insure their own success. Everything revolved around family, mom emerging from the kitchen each evening in dress and high heels to welcome dad home, while the kids sat dutifully at the table finishing their homework. In a sense, some might argue, these shows became a propaganda genre in their own right, defining success based upon material gain and traditional familial roles. Some might even recall those "Happy Days" by noting that for a time, entertainment lost its edginess.

By the mid-50s however, a storm was "brewing in paradise" as children of the Defining Generation entered their teens and began asking pointed questions, often to receive answers they found less than direct. Their first steps of rebellion were probably first noted as they redefined the music of their own era, flocking to listen to Rock and Roll while mom and dad shook their heads in dismay. Furthermore, it often seemed that the more mom and dad objected, the more it only added fuel to the fire and inspired the young to further test the boundaries of what the older generation believed appropriate.

By the early 1960s a 35-year-old comedian named Lenny Bruce (Leonard Alfred Schneider) began drawing a following among older teens with his more than edgy and utterly profane, push-the-envelope brand of stand-up comedy. His repeated use of the "F-word" would today be considered commonplace in comedy, but in 1960 it was utter blasphemy. On October 4, 1961 , after using a slang term for a person engaged in fellatio during a performance in San Francisco , he was arrested and charged with obscenity. He was subsequently acquitted in a jury trial and his over-the-top act appealed to young people in rebellion while further inciting close scrutiny persecution by older "guardians of morality," often leading to additional arrests for obscenity. Undercover detectives were known to regularly gather evidence while posing as members of his audience, and the vulgar comedian become something of a folk hero and martyr to many college-age and recently liberated teens, even more so when he was at last found guilty of obscenity on November 4, 1964 . He was sentenced to four months in a work program but died on December 21, 1964 , while free pending appeal. In 1970 his conviction was overturned by the New York Court of Appeals.

"Liberation" in the '60s came to mean much more than granting Civil Rights to all or freeing women from traditional roles. It also came to symbolize a growing openness about old values and taboo subjects like sex. The research work of William Masters and Virginia E. Johnson, which began in 1957, took sex out of the darkness and plastered previously untouchable subjects in the pages of leading American publications. College frat boys proudly displayed issues of "Playboy Magazine," which began publication in 1953, openly on the desks in their dorm rooms. A symbol of their new freedom and perhaps also a symbol of status, their actions were in stark contrast to those of their father's who kept "Playboy" hidden out of sight in a tool drawer in the garage.

In 1963 Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique told young women that the act of sex whether with a partner or self-fulfilled, was not necessarily an evil thing, and that it could in fact, be as pleasurable for a woman as well as it was for a man. Coupled with availability of the "Pill," a far more convenient and certainly surer form of contraception than a Roaring Twenties' Coke purge, as well as a growing hippie movement that preached free love and open sexuality, it became a period of sexual revolution. Art soon began to imitate life as Hollywood responded with films that included the same language that had resulted in Lenny Bruce's arrest, and partial nudity became increasingly common on the big screen. The change was so swift and so dramatic that in 1966, in response to growing complaints about profanity and violence, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) established an "SMA" (Suggested for Mature Audiences) label for movies of a more adult nature. Within two years it was obvious that this simple designation was inadequate, and on November 1, 1968, MPAA established a new movie rating code similar to how we know it today (G-General, M-Mature, R-Restricted, and X). The rating was voluntary but most producers quickly complied, especially as they learned that an "M" or "R" rating assured them a larger and more eager audience.

No examination of the evolution of entertainment in the '60s would be complete without a view of the role music came to play in society in general, and particularly for a new generation. When the Beatles came to America in 1963 with their long hair, the older generation collectively groaned in great despair. Within two years however, the Beatles with songs about "Yellow Submarines" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand" seemed mild in comparison to a drugged-out Janis Joplin singing " Whoa, I need a man to love me," activist Joan Baez addressing Civil Rights abuse while singing "Birmingham Sunday," and Bob Dylan composing and singing songs to protest the war in Vietnam.

That entertainment evolved and pushed-the-envelope during the sixties, building to the climactic 3-day concert outside Woodstock , New York , in August 1969 that marked the apex of the new counter-culture of the period, is an inescapable fact. Over a decade the entertainment industry experienced perhaps its most dramatic change in world history, breaking all laws of nature, decency, and morality. It set a pace that continues to this day as a new generation seeks to shock and dismay their own parents, many of whom participated in the wild weekend that was Woodstock or who wished they had. With those changes have come not only acceptance of pornography but elevation of its participants to celebrity status, a lust for more blood and violence on the big screen, and any number of associated societal problems.

It light of the Pandora's Box the Defining Generation released decades ago, it might be easy to focus only on that which was negative and blame ourselves for the problems of a new generation. But they would have defined their own culture of entertainment, even had we not sought as a generation to define ourselves and our time so liberally. Accepting the good with the bad, it must also be remembered that as entertainment breached tradition and social custom, in its activism it also began to address serious issues in American society that had long been ignored.

Furthermore, not to be forgotten from that period are other more positive reflections of our thoughts and our time: songs of peace and love, ballads of hope, and the search for the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius. One of the most popular songs of our era, holding the Number One spot on the charts for six weeks in 1970, was Simon and Garfunkel reminding us:

"When you're weary, feeling small,
"When tears are in your eyes,
"I will dry them all;
"I'm on your side. when times get rough
"And friends just cant be found,
"Like a bridge over troubled water
"I will lay me down."



The Defining Generation: Copyright 2006 by Doug and Pam Sterner
All Rights Reserved


Cover & Introduction
Out With the Old
     The Defining Generation

I. - Defining the New
     John Fitzgerald Kennedy
     Roger H.C. Donlon
     Robert Robin Moore
     Barry Sadler
     The Green Beret

II. - Defining Equality
     When Worlds Collide
     Dr. Martin Luther King
     Jimmy Stanford & Vince Yrineo
     Milton Lee Olive, III
     Specialist Lawrence Joel
     Sammy Lee Davis
     Black MOH Recipients - Vietnam War

III. - Defining the Role of the Sexes
     Evolution of a Husband
     Remember the Ladies
     Rosie the Riveter
     Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard
     Linda G. Alvarado
     Karen Irene Offutt
     Women in Military Service
     Lieutenant General Carol Mutter
     The Modern Woman in Combat
IV. - Defining Human Rights
     My Brother's Keeper
     Who is My Brother
     Christopher Dodd & Christopher Shays
     Peace Corps Politicians (Memories)
     Don Bendell
     Sir Edward Artis
     General Colin L. Powell

V. - Defining Entertainment
     Life Imitating Art
     Troubled Waters
     Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
     Brian's Song
     All in the Family
     Adrian Cronauer

VI. - Defining Dissent

     From Berkeley With Love
     The Pen and the Sword
     General David Shoup
     Muhammad Ali
     John Forbes Kerry

VII. - Defining the Future of Politics
     An Act of Congress
     All Politics is....Hereditary?
     Hillary Rodham Clinton
     Condoleezza Rice
     James Henry Webb
The next Section is scheduled for posting on May 20, 2011
VIII. - Defining Memories
     Jaime Pacheco
     The Glory of their Deeds
     Jan Scruggs
     Delbert Schmeling
     Peter C. Lemon

The authors extend our thanks to the following who granted personal interviews for this work
: Roger Donlon (MOH), Robin Moore, Don Bendell, Jimmy Stanford, Vince Yrineo, Sammy L. Davis (MOH), Linda Alvarado, Karen Offutt, Lieutenant General Carol Mutter, Sir Edward Artis, General Colin L. Powell, Katharine Houghton, Adrian Cronauer, Jan Scruggs, Delbert Schmeling, and Peter Lemon (MOH).
Our thanks to the staff of the following who either wrote or allowed reprint of their own works for this book: Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard, Don Bendell, Congressman Sam Farr, Congressman Thomas Petri, Congressman Mike Honda, Congressman Jim Walsh, Governor Jim Doyle, and Scott Baron.
Our special thanks also to the staff of the following who provided information and fact-checked the chapters related to their subject: Staff of Senator John Kerry, Staff of (then) Senator Hillary Clinton, Staff of Senator Jim Webb
A SPECIAL THANKS also to Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard for his assistance in writing and editing the entire section on the Role of the Sexes.


Copyright 1999-2014 by
2115 West 13th Street - Pueblo, CO 81003
Unless otherwise noted, all materials by C. Douglas Sterner

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