Category Archives: Generations

Significant Events of a Generation: Gen Y – Y2K

   “I came here today because I wanted to stress the urgency of the challenge…Clearly, we must set forth what the government is doing, what business is doing, but also what all of us have yet to do to meet this challenge together. And there is still a pressing need for action.” – President Bill Clinton, in a speech about Y2K at the National Academy of Sciences, July 15,1998

As the approach of the 21st Century loomed in the distance, there was widespread speculation that the date change to the year 2000, as cataloged by computers and other digital technology, would result in worldwide technological failure. Y2K was the first threat of widespread calamity due to technological failure, causing the world to face its vulnerability as a society reliant upon technology in the new digital era. What would happen if all the computers failed to operate at the turn of the clock?

Before 1996, many computer programs stored years with only two decimals, so that 1960 would read 60, and so forth. Therefore, when these programs reached the year 2000, they would not be able to distinguish between 00 as 2000, or 13000000, or 1800, etc. The resulting faulty date logic could cause computer systems to produce incorrect results or fail. Since much of modern societies’ utilities and crucial infrastructures are reliant upon computer systems to function, the result of widespread computer failure would be disastrous on a global scale. As programmers started to become aware of a potential problem, the British Standards Institute developed the “Year 2000 Conformity” standards, stating that “the century must be unambiguous, either specified or calculable by algorithm.” Companies, governments, and organizations all over the world set to fixing and upgrading their computer systems. There was amazing effort and collaboration to quickly make sure that major industries were squared away, as well as an estimated $300 billion spent globally .  However, there were still concerns as to whether the precautions would work at the turn of the millennium.

The response to the threat of Y2K from the general populous varied. Some people were not concerned or convinced that Y2K would be an issue, while many were swept up in the media’s sensationalism. For those who were concerned about shut-down, precautions varied. Sales in solar electricity equipment increased 110% in the two-year span from 1998-99.  A Scripps and Howard News Service National Survey taken 6 months before January 1, 2000 found that 36% of people would avoid flying a commercial airliner and 34% would stock up on extra food. The more extreme responses, such as underground bunkers,  spawned a National Geographic series called “Doomsday Preppers.” However, when the clock counted down to January 1, 2000, there were luckily no devastating results due to the Y2K bug because of the thorough precautionary measures that had been taken.

Though Y2K is often remembered by poking fun at the sensationalism, it is also a great example of how the world rallied quickly and efficiently to prevent global disaster. The Y2K scare was an example of international commitment and collaboration that quickly eradicated a global threat. Let us hope that governments and corporations worldwide will be willing to invest as much money and sense of urgency to fixing our current impending environmental threats and to upgrading the way we view our role as a species on this planet.

Whats Currently Trending with Gen Y

Human Workplace
“The Truth About Millenials”

This article written by Liz Ryan, CEO of Human Workplace, is outlines how millennials bring a refreshingly truthful perspective and honest look at old, established workplace standards, protocols, and policies. She explains that they do not accept established rules for the sake of accepting them, but instead have an “appetite to reinvent crusty systems for a human-powered era [that] is exactly what our organizations need.”

Today Money
“Gen Y Women: Sexism Exists at Work, but Not in My Office”

This article, written by Allison Lin of Today Money, outlines how the gender discrimination in work tends to occur later down the career path for older women. A recent Pew Report showed that 60% of millennial women believe that men earn more for the same work, yet a new report showed that only 15% of millennial women age 18-32 felt that they had been discriminated against at their workplace. Why the gap? For the most part, millennial men and women tend to have more equal wages, whereas professionals who are older with more experience tend to note a much more significant wage gap between men and women.


Tinder is the next generation of online dating and apparently, users who have the app, are addicted to it. When you sign up for Tinder, it uses information from facebook and crosses that information with Tinder users in the local area of the user at the moment of signing in. The user can rate profiles they like or reject profiles they don’t like. If both profiles are a match, the people can start a private conversation and maybe meet-up.  It combines the entertainment of rating people’s profiles with the ability to actually meet-up with someone in the vicinity if it is a good match.  According to recent data, the Tinder app is downloaded 200,000 times a day and the user population is growing steadily.

Gen X is from Mars, Gen Y is from Venus: A Primer on How to Motivate Millennials

This article interviews a Gen X and Gen Y employee and assesses how they both have very different cultural backgrounds and viewpoints on the workplace. It also offers some very insightful tips on how to approach these differences, including “the benefit of shifting from ‘a command and control style to a more inclusive management philosophy.’”


Generational Quick Tip: Flexibility Incentives for All Generations

Studies have shown that Gen Y employees greatly desire flexibility in the workplace as a major criterion for selecting employment. However, what is not commonly discussed is that all generations in the workplace, not just Gen Y, find great value in flexibility and flextime, though for different reasons. Baby-Boomers desire flexibility because it allows them time to pursue their interests and spend time with grandchildren or other family members. Gen X employees want flextime because they may be caring for elderly parents or children, or are looking for better work-life balance. And the young Gen Y constituency desire time outside of work to partake in hobbies, activities, and have enough time to socialize.  It is important that employees of all generations understand that flexibility benefits everyone and is not just an incentive given to Gen Y to meet recruitment demands.

Action Step:
When creating policies that offer more flexibility and flextime, make sure you appeal to all employees as a company-wide incentive and not just in targeting new hires.

Generational Quick Tip: Communication Styles

Each generation in the workplace will have very different communication styles because of their cultural background and how they view themselves in the workplace. Baby-boomers, who have been around the block, are diplomatic and politically correct. They like connecting with people in person.  Generation X, however, is more blunt and direct in their communication style. They like to present facts and straightforward language. They like to use email because it is efficient and timesaving. Having grown up in a quickly changing world, Generation Y prefers short communication interactions such as text messages. If they are communicating on email for work, their style will be more informal. They will not seek out in-person meetings unless a detailed conversation is needed.

Action Step:
Making the effort to learn how another generation communicates and taking strides to be conscientious in your communication could greatly open up your ability to communicate successfully with people from all generations.

Significant People of a Generation: J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling, or Joanne Rowling, is the author of the Harry Potter series and one of the richest, most successful women in the world. Her books have been especially influential on the young Generation Y that grew up reading her series and came-of-age along with the young heroes of the story.  Not only Gen Y, but generations young and old all around the world have been touched by these tales of epic heroism and magical wonder. Along with her series, Rowling’s personal rags-to-riches story has inspired many to believe in following their dreams, making her an icon the world over.

J.K. Rowling  was born on July 31, 1965, in a small town English town called Yate, 12 miles northeast of Bristol.  At the age of four, her family moved to Winterbourne, where Rowling and her younger sister, Dianne, attended St. Michael’s Primary School. At secondary school, Rowling was made Head Girl and enjoyed reading and writing. It was during these formative years in her early to late teens that she met many of the friends that inspired the main characters her books.  From early childhood onward, Rowling wrote many fantasy stories and read them to her sister. However, Rowling’s parents encouraged her to view story making as a fun hobby rather than a viable course of study.

In 1982, she attended college at University of Exeter for Foreign Language studies, during which time she claims to have done no work and instead, spent time reading Dickens and Tolkien and scribbling stories at the local cafes and pubs. However, professors claim that Rowling was a competent, bright student. In 1986, Rowling moved to London and worked for Amnesty International as a bilingual secretary. It was an experience that greatly impacted her and can be seen in the dark themes of human rights violations and political injustice in her books.

Shortly thereafter, she moved with her boyfriend to Manchester. It was on the four-hour train trip from Manchester to London that the idea for the Harry Potter series “came fully formed” into her mind and that evening she began to write the first installment of the series.  A couple months into her starting the book, Rowling’s mother died after a ten-year long battle with multiple sclerosis.  Rowling claims that the event made her sympathize with Harry as an orphan and that she added darker, more realistic emotions about death throughout the series as she dealt with her own mother’s passing.

While continuing to write her first book, J.K. Rowling moved to Portugal to teach English in the evenings and write her novel in the daytime. On October 16, 1992, she married a Portuguese journalist and had a child together, Jessica Isabel Rowling Arantes, on July 27, 1993. After a tumultuous relationship, rumored to be physically abusive, Rowling filed for divorce 13 months after her marriage and moved to Edinburgh to live near her sister.  This was a very dark period in Rowling’s life, where she claims felt like a complete failure. She was living off of welfare and could barely support herself and her young child.  She also suffered from clinical depression and often had suicidal thoughts. However, it was during this time that she truly devoted herself to her novel, a devotion that she was only able to realize “because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential.” (J.K. Rowling, Harvard Commencement Speech, 2008).

In 1995, Rowling finished the manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The manuscript was picked up by Bloomsbury publishing house in London. Allegedly, they chose to pick-up the book after the eight-year-old daughter of Bloomberg’s chairman read the first chapter and demanded to read the next immediately. In 1997, the first 1,000 copies of the book were printed. The book was awarded the Smarties Book Prize and won the prestigious British Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year. In 1998, the book was picked up by Scholastic and began circulation in the United States. With the money from these successes, Rowling was able to move out of her apartment and get a nice home in Edinburgh.

The next two installments of the book series, Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban, both won the Smarties Award and showed increased sales. However, it was not until the fourth book, Goblet of Fire that sales records in the United States and the UK began to skyrocket. Within the first 48 hours in the US, the book sold three million copies, historically breaking all literary sales records by a huge margin.  Subsequently, the rest of the series only grew in popularity and continued to break sales records. The sixth book of the series sold nine million copies in the first 24 hours and the final book , finished on January 11, 2007, sold eleven million copies on the first day.

Since then, the Harry Potter global brand has grown to be worth more than $15 billion. It has been turned into eight feature length films and a Universal Studio theme park. At one point, Rowling was marked as one of a handful of top British billionaires. However, she has since donated vast amounts of her money to various philanthropic causes and is now only in the top 1,000 richest people in Britain. (Still, not bad considering her humble beginnings.) She remarried in 2001 and had two more children. She lives quietly with her family, and continues to write.

Cultural Quick Tip: Teach Team Shorthand to New Team Members

The deck of an aircraft carrier is one of the most dangerous places to work, as it requires precise and exact communication in order to safely land planes on a pitching deck in high winds. To an outsider, it may look chaotic, but this setting has been refined over time to be a highly organized workplace. One part of this success is the crew’s use of a shorthand communication style that has its own vernacular, acronyms, hand signals and subtext. While most work teams operate in a fairly safe work environment, they still develop their own compressed language that allows team members to communicate quickly and easily with each other. When outsiders join the team, this shorthand may be hard to understand or learn resulting in conflict and frustration, especially if people are from different cultural backgrounds. It is important when bringing new people onto a team that the team’s shorthand is shared with them.

Action Step:
Collect the acronyms and vernacular unique to your team so that new team members can quickly learn your team shorthand.

Whats Currently Trending with Gen Y

NPR Story
“Why Millenials Are Ditching Cars and Redefining Ownership”

NPR’s Morning Edition reports on Gen Y’s views on ownership.  Millennials want access to cars, but are less interested in owning them than in owning smart phones. Confused car companies cannot understand what has changed. However, it is not just cars, but Gen Y attitude towards ownership in general which seems to suggest that they are more discerning than previous generations when it comes to what they can afford, what they really need, and the practical hassles of ownership.

“Flip-Flops at Work: Millennials Finally Get What They Want

This article outlines how Millennials are starting to make demands in the workplace.  They lost leverage with their bosses when the economy made it more difficult to find jobs, however, now that they are entering the workforce in higher numbers,  they are starting to make more demands. They are particularly interested in more flexibility in work dress and hours. The surprising discovery: most of their demands for more flexible hours align with the desires of the older Gen X and Baby Boomer constituencies. Perhaps we are not all as different as we think…

NBC Politics
“Not that liberal: 5 surprising facts about Millennials and politics”

This article offers an in depth view of the realities of Millennial political beliefs. The survey of 434 people within the age group of 18 to 29 showed that 59% landed in the center with regard to their political beliefs, while only 20% identified as left and 21% as conservative.  Often, millennials fall in the center because they are divided on issues: many support gay marriage, while taking more conservative views on immigration and voting rights. Either way, the study seems to debunk the common belief that the majority of millennials fall to the far left.

Generational Quotes

“We may consider each generation as a distinct nation, with a right, by the will of its majority, to bind themselves, but none to bind the succeeding generation, more than the inhabitants of another country.”
-Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father

“It is fortunate that each generation does not comprehend its own ignorance. We are thus enabled to call our ancestors barbarous.”
-Charles Dudley Warner, Author

“Coming generations will learn equality from poverty, and love from woes.”
-Khalil Gibran, Poet and Writer

“Back, you know, a few generations ago, people didn’t have a way to share information and express their opinions efficiently to a lot of people. But now they do. Right now, with social networks and other tools on the Internet, all of these 500 million people have a way to say what they’re thinking and have their voice be heard.”
-Mark Zuckerberg ,
Founder and CEO Facebook

“I think we may be seeing the beginnings of a resurgence of civic-mindedness in this country. Hopefully the younger generations, which came out in record numbers during the last presidential election, will pass their enthusiasm on to their children.”
-Sandra Day O’Connor,
Supreme Court Justice

Significant Events of a Generation: Million Man March

“We are standing in the place of those who couldn’t make it here today. We are standing on the blood of our ancestors.” –Louis Farrakhan

February is African American History month and so this month we are focusing on an event in history that has both a generational and African American connection.  On October 16, 1995 the Million Man March took place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  The event was intended to be a call for African American men from across the nation to gather together and draw attention to significant economic and political issues disproportionately affecting African Americans across the United States.  Organizers of the march were also hoping to redefine the public image of the African American male.  The march was the brainchild of Louis Farrakhan and was organized by the National African American Leadership Summit and the Nation of Islam as well as local chapters of the NAACP.

The march itself is an interesting event to examine from a generational perspective.  Louis Farrakhan, the main organizer, was born in 1933 and is a member of the Traditionalist generation, as were many of the other organizers.  Participants spanned all generations from Traditionalists to Gen Y.  The children that were brought along to the event were all members of Gen Y, as in 1995 the oldest members of Gen Y (1980 – 2000) were 15 years old and any child younger than that would have fallen within the Gen Y category.  Gen X (1965 – 1979) was solidly in their teens and 20s when the march took place – members of both generations no doubt both paid attention to news reports and participated in the march itself.  Older Gen X and Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964) were the adults and parents of the march, showing up in large numbers to support a cause they viewed as significant to both themselves and future generations.

The march began at 6 a.m., with busloads of attendees coming from all over the country. Community leaders, pastors, elected officials, and other public figures made up a long list of speakers who spoke powerful words to the crowd on the National Mall.  The agenda for the day included: voter registration, adoption, unemployment, poverty rates, law enforcement, education and health issues. The number of marchers was a topic of dispute, as organizers of the march claimed upwards of 800,000 and representatives of the National Parks Service claimed only 400,000 people showed up.  Regardless, even at its lowest estimate, the event was one of the top five largest events in terms of participants, to ever be held on the National Mall.

Certainly the Million Man March was a significant event in African American history and one that shaped the younger generations, Gen X and Y.  The year after the march took place there was an increase in black male voters in the 1996 presidential election, by over 1.7 million.  In addition, the march has inspired countless other “Million” marches such as: Million Worker March, Million Letter March, Million Mom Challenge and Million Hoodie March – to name a few.

Generational Quick Tip: Loyalty

Whether employees are loyal to the company, to leadership, to managers, or to colleagues is an attribute of their generational cultural filter and varies from generation to generation. In the workplace, employee loyalty can have a great impact on the overall company culture. Baby-boomers tend to be more loyal to their career and employers. Though they tend to challenge authority when it confronts their sense of morality, they will loyally dedicate very long business hours to the company in order to climb the corporate ladder. Generation X is loyal to their managers. Highly independent workers, Gen X appeal to managers for independent projects and assignments, as well as opportunities for flexibility, self-sufficiency, and entrepreneurship. On the other hand, Generation Y is loyal to their colleagues, particularly their Gen Y peers. They are very sociable, making many diverse workplace friends, and use their camaraderie as a support system while treading the daunting new world of corporate life. Having a better understanding about loyalty in the workplace may lend interesting and helpful insight into why a colleague of a certain generation is motivated to respond in a particular way.

Action Step:
Keep in mind generational differences about loyalty when working with colleagues on teams or across departments.

Cultural Statistics

Top Five Countries That Like American Ways of Doing Business:

  • Kenya
  • Senegal
  • Ghana
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa

Source: Pew Research Forum (

Women and Statistics in the US

30.7 Million: Number of women aged 25 or older with a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2010. Men were 29.2 million. 8.6 million firms are owned by women, employing nearly 7.8 million people, and generating $1.3 trillion in sales as of 2013. Women-owned firms (50% or more) account for 30% of all privately held firms and contribute 14% of employment and 11% of revenues.

Source: Educational Attainment in the United States: 2010, US Census National Association of Women
Business Owners

April is Minority Health Month

Healthcare disparities impact millions of Americans. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality:

* About 30 percent of Hispanic and 20 percent of black Americans lack a usual source of health care compared with less than 16 percent of whites

* Hispanic children are nearly three times as likely as non-Hispanic white children to have no usual source of health care

* African Americans and Hispanic Americans are far more likely to rely on hospitals or clinics for their usual source of care than are white Americans (16% and 13%, respectively, v. 8%)

Find out more about healthcare disparities and how you can help to address this issue please visit:
•  National Minority Quality Forum –

•  Office of Minority Health –

•  Healthy People 2020 –

Whats Currently Trending with Gen Y

Study: Millennials and Employers Disagree on Path to Success
This study looks at the gap between recent college graduates perceived preparedness for the workplace and the actual preparedness/expectations of hiring companies. According to the article, there is a gap between what Gen Y is learning in college and what actually makes them ready to join the workforce.

Bloomberg Business Article “George Zimmer Isn’t the Only Reason Young People Don’t Shop at Men’s Wearhouse”
On June 19, 2013, The Men’s Wearhouse made waves when they fired their founder and spokesperson, George Zimmer, for differences in the company’s vision. Part of the “vision” issue was George Zimmer’s appearance itself, as well his well-known tagline “You’re gonna like the way you look; I guarantee it!”  According to the article, the company claimed that his “EveryDad” look and slogan are unmarketable to the younger generation.  However, the article also addresses that the downward trend noticed by suit manufacturers across the industry is due to the fact that Millennials will not “cotton to business suits the way older generations did.” For the Gen Y generation, there is a marked push in making casual Friday every day.

Matt Bors Gen Y Cartoon “Can We Stop Worrying About Millienials Yet?
This creative and humorous cartoon, written by Pulitzer prize finalist and Gen Y member Matt Bors, addresses the age old issue of society blaming the youngest generation for their problems.  It is a succinct and witty counter to the many articles written accusing Generation Y of a range of problems, including extreme narcissism, laziness, inability to socialize, tattoos, etc., which according to Bors, have been complaints launched against the youngest generation in society throughout human history.

Significant Events of a Generation: The 1986 Chernobyl Disaster

“For the first time ever, we have confronted in reality the sinister power of uncontrolled nuclear energy.”
-Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986

Today as we face the challenge of finding alternative energy resources, increasing reliance on nuclear power remains a viable, though controversial, option. People spanning all generations have a vested interest in the question of nuclear power because nuclear power has immediate benefits, while nuclear disaster can cause long-term and persistent contamination for generations to come. Gen Xers, who were young adults during the 1970s and 1980s, witnessed several major nuclear power events that greatly impacted their views on nuclear power.

The most significant of these events was the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant meltdown in the Ukraine. It is considered (along with the latest 2011 Fukushima disaster) to be the worst nuclear power plant accident in history. On April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl Power Plant, which was under the jurisdiction of the U.S.S.R., experienced a sudden unexpected power surge, leading the reactor vessel to rupture and a fire to break out. The fire sent a huge cloud into the atmosphere, which spread highly radioactive material across the Ukraine, Belarus, the U.S.S.R. and most of Western Europe. 30 workers at the power plant were killed and over 130 others in the immediate area were diagnosed with acute radiation poisoning over the next couple of weeks. Over 115,000 people were immediately evacuated from the nearby area and in the following year, another 220,000 people were relocated from the surrounding areas of the Ukraine, Belarus, and the U.S.S.R.

In the immediate aftermath, the U.S.S.R. concealed the seriousness of the disaster. It was not until April 28, 4 days after the incident, that nuclear power plant workers in Sweden discovered radioactive particles on their clothing. They deduced that the radioactive material did not come from a leak in their own plant and alerted the rest of Europe and the world to the grave impact of the accident. The accident released 400 times more radioactive fallout than Hiroshima, and covered an area of almost 3,930,000 sq. miles with varying degrees of radioactive fallout in each European country, depending on the weather.

The entirety of the long-term environmental and health consequences of the disaster still is not known.  Due to the radioactive cloud, hazardous material was spread into surrounding water systems, soil, and air. The city of Gomel in Belarus, relatively close to the site of the accident, was reported to have heavy, black rain fall from the radioactive cloud.  Many plants and animals in the surrounding areas either died, became infertile, or produced grossly malformed offspring. To this day, wild boar in Bavaria , Germany, that eat the contaminated topsoil mushrooms, show highly increased levels of radioactivity, so much so that Germany refuses the meat of thousands of hunted boars per year due to radiation levels unsafe for human consumption.

Likewise, scientists are still discovering the long-term health effects in humans. According to UNSCEAR, up to the year 2005 more than 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer were reported in children and adolescents exposed at the time of the accident, a number that is expected to increase. Studies suggest that even low doses of the ionized radiation produced at Chernobyl may have lead to increased cases of cataracts, cardiovascular disease, and varying forms of cancer, particularly leukemia. However, determining finite statistics is difficult because results must be estimated over a very long period of time and must use information and projections from the studies of atomic bomb survivors and other highly exposed populations, which is not the same as long-term exposure.

The lasting environmental and health effects of Chernobyl remain to be seen and probably will continue to impact generations to come. The impact on society, particularly on young Generation X, has resulted in widespread distrust and disillusionment of nuclear power. Only now, as global warming comes to the forefront of environmental concerns, is nuclear energy being re-considered by environmentalists and scientists as a viable economic option for a clean energy source. However, for those victims directly impacted by Chernobyl, those whose environment is still impacted by lingering radioactive waste, and those were alive to witness Chernobyl, the negative stigma and memory will not be easily eradicated.

Significant People of a Generation: Baby Boomers – Meryl Streep

   “Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.” – Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep is considered to be one of the most talented and beloved actresses in the world. A member of the Baby-Boomer generation, she has been the quintessential Hollywood dame for nearly 35 years since she first gained prominence in 1978.  She is known for her incredible versatility, ability to immerse herself into roles, and great mastery of difficult accents.  Many of her iconic roles, such as Linda in the Vietnam War movie The Deer Hunter, express the attitudes and trials of her Boomer generation, who matured into adulthood watching her films.

On June 22, 1949, Meryl Streep (née Mary Louise Streep) was born in Summit, New Jersey. Her mother was a commercial artist and her father was a pharmaceutical executive. Streep was raised in Bernardsville, NJ, along with her two brothers. She attended Bernards High School, where she was a cheerleader, choir and drama club member, and was even voted Homecoming Queen senior year.  Streep went on to receive her B.A. in Drama from Vassar College in 1971 and her M.F.A. at the Yale School of Drama.

During the early 1970s, Meryl Streep acted predominantly in theater, performing standard Shakespearean repertory and starring on Broadway. Her first film debut was in the movie Julia (1977), which she played a small, but important role. In 1978, she landed a supporting role in The Deer Hunter and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. During this time, she also met and married sculptor Don Gummer. They are still married and have four children together.

In 1979, Streep won her first Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for the movie Kramer vs. Kramer, where she played opposite Dustin Hoffman.  Streep was again nominated for an Oscar for her role opposite Jeremy Irons in the French Lieutenant’s Woman in 1981. The following year, she wins another Oscar, this time for Best Actress, for her emotional role in the holocaust movie Sophie’s Choice, a movie that required Streep to speak in German, Polish, and also perfect a Polish-American accent.  Continuing steadily in her work, Streep has had a very prolific career starring in such iconic films as: Out of Africa (1985), The River Wild  (1994), The Bridges of Madison County (1995), One True Thing (1998), Adaptation (2002), Angels in America (2003), The Manchurian Candidate (2004), The Devil Wears Prada (2006), Doubt (2008), Julie & Julia (2009), and The Iron Lady (2011).

Streep won her 3rd Oscar in 2011 for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, making her one of only six actors in film history to win three Oscars. Over the course of her career, Streep has been nominated for 17 Academy Awards and holds the record for the highest number of nominations for any actor.  Including other awards, such as BAFTA, Emmy, and Tony Awards, Streep has won 112 total and been nominated 215 times. She has honorary Doctorate degrees  from Yale, Harvard, Princeton,  and won the Life Achievement Award in 2004 from the American Film Institute. In 2010, President Barack Obama awarded her the National Medal for the Arts.  At age 64, Streep still has very active career, which is unique for women over 60. She is set to appear in two films in 2013 and a production of Into the Woods in 2014.

Significant People of a Generation: Joesph McCarthy and The McCarthy Era

“The junior senator from Wisconsin, by his reckless charges, has so preyed upon the fears and hatreds and prejudices of the American people that he has started a prairie fire which neither he nor anyone else may be able to control.”
-Senator J. William. Fullbright

When most people today remember the Cold War, they think of the 1963 Cuban Missile Crisis and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  However, the Cold War had a presence in the United States well before these events. Though it may come as a surprise, the majority of Baby-Boomers (born 1946-1964) were born into a world where the Cold War was already in full engagement, starting with events such as the 1948 Berlin Blockade and the 1950 Korean War. The “Red Scare,” a fear that was reflected in the McCarthy Investigations and Hearings during the early 1950s, surrounded their young lives.

Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin was elected into office in 1946 and had a relatively uncontroversial tenure, until his 1950 Wheeler speech. During the Wheeler speech, which gained McCarthy notoriety and fame, McCarthy claimed to possess a confirmed list of known Communist spies working at the State Department. McCarthy was called to the Tydings Committee hearing later the same month to give supportive evidence to his claim. During the hearings, McCarthy gave little to no evidence and made many slanderous and vicious verbal attacks against several supposed Communists on the list. Though the committee concluded that McCarthy’s list was fraudulent, his outrageous demagoguery had ruined the careers of several people. He had also garnered a strong national support, typically along partisan lines, driven by the fear of Communism.

After the committee, McCarthy continued his attack campaign with full fervor, claiming that the Truman administration was failing to deal with subversive Communists in its ranks. His national support continued to grow, particularly within the Republican Party. McCarthy campaigned for several Republican Senators during this time, and successfully helped them to win their campaigns by making false accusations that their opponents were “Communist sympathizers.” It was clear that underhanded campaign tactics and the fear of Communism made successful political allies for McCarthy, and amongst his fellow Senators, he began to be treated with deference and fear.

In 1952, McCarthy was re-elected to the Senate and was made chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He commissioned Roy Cohn and Robert F. Kennedy as counsels, and used the committee to investigate communists in the government. He investigated the Voices of America, a United States Information agency, making wild accusations on television in front of the press that destroyed the careers of many innocent people. One engineer even committed suicide. McCarthy then turned the International Information Angency international library program, demanding the removal of inappropriate Communist reading material (those books on the subject of Communism or authored by known and supposed Communists). The State Department complied with these requests and some of the libraries even had book burnings for the forbidden material. In response to these book burnings and in defiance of McCarthy, President Eisenhower implored Americans: “Don’t join the book burners … Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book.”

In 1953, McCarthy turned his investigation on the United States Army. In an ill-fated move, McCarthy summoned General Zwicker to a hearing for promoting supposed Communist sympathizer Irvin Pressing to the rank of General. During the hearing McCarthy verbal assaulted Zwicker, a decorated hero of World War II, resulting in an angry response of the Army, newspapers, and civilians. In retaliation, the U.S. Army accused McCarthy and Roy Cohn of using their political power to pressure the Army into give a personal friend, Private G. David Schine, preferential treatment.

The Army-McCarthy hearings began on April 22, 1954. They were led by McCarthy’s very own Subcommittee on Investigations, with Karl Mundt appointed as temporary chair of the committee. The hearings lasted for 36 days and were broadcasted on live T.V. While the hearings provided no evidence that McCarthy was guilty of coercion, they did change the opinion of many of the American audience that McCarthy was an aggressive, dishonest bully. According to a public opinion gallop pole, national support for McCarthy in March 1954 before the hearings had a Net Favorable Score of +10, where after April 1954 his Net score had dropped to -8. Many Democratic and Republican politicians, who had feared to speak up before, outwardly disapproved of McCarthy.

In December 1954, Senate hearings to “censure” and “condemn” McCarthy were held and passed by a significant majority vote.  Though McCarthy remained in office of the next 2.5 years, he was completely ignored by colleagues and the press; his outside speaking engagements were nearly empty. Essentially, his career was destroyed. He died May 2, 1957 of hepatitis that was believed to be the cause of heavy drinking. However, his legacy lives on in the term “McCarthyism, ”in the memories of those people adversely impacted by his witch-hunt, and in the young Baby-Boomer generation who learned from an early age to distrust the claims of dishonest politicians.