By Beth Pinyerd

In sharing my heart of gratitude with my readers, it struck me that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Beyond Valentine doilies, cards and Valentine boxes, I want to capture in this column a “Thank You Valentine Card” in sharing the Greatest Generation characteristics.
These are lessons and core values that we can learn and glean from them to not only strengthen our own personal lives but to strengthen our society as a whole. Let’s keep in mind this is the generation that suffered and persevered through the Great Depression. Also, they went on to fight World War II.
As I have volunteered and served this group of people with programs, crafts, intergenerational activities, I would like to share some of the characteristics modeled before me on a daily basis.

  1. The Greater Generation had a great sense of responsibility:
    During the Great Depression, children had to grow up fast. From history, we learn they did not have a normal childhood of free play, fun and learning. By the teenage years, many young men and women had to take on adult responsibilities of working to support large families as well as maintaining the home front while both their parents had to work. Responsibility was truly an honor during this era. We learn to be leaders through seasons of responsibility.
  2. Communication through letters and conversations:
    My elderly friends take time to write letters to their families and friends. During the Christmas holiday, I was so fascinated at how many Christmas cards were sent by my senior friends who are in their 80s and 90s. For some, it was well into hundreds of letters. The commitment of time spent writing letters shows love to the family or friend. No text or emails, but handwritten letters is a way of communication with the elderly population. Having face-to-face conversations from this generation is good for us.
  3. Work Ethic:
    The work ethic for the Greater Generation is “keeping your nose to the grindstone!” They took great and deep pride in the work they did. They were very loyal to the company they were working for. For the population within that, the first company who hired you was the one you retired from. As this generation exemplifies, hard work does pay off.
  4. Good stewards and frugal with money and materials:
    As we see today, this generation were and are prudent in saving money and materials. I remember my own grandparents saved each penny, leftovers with food and we even saved Christmas bows from year to year. How opposite this is with our disposable society which leads to financial stress as a society.
  5. Cooking and preparing real food for families and friends:
    I am a baby boomer. I do vividly remember that we did not have fast-food restaurants in the Opelika-Auburn area till I was at least 12 years old. All meals were prepared from scratch and from the garden. We also sat down as a family at home to eat dinner.
  6. Play Outside and Pretend Play:
    The Greater Generation encouraged we children to play outside instead of staying inside to look at television and play video games. This was so good for our bodies and minds. Playing outside enhances exploration of nature and socialization skills in getting together to play outside with our friends. Creativity was tops in pretend games. The Greater Generation realized that play was a child’s work.
  7. Faithful
    I love to talk to my senior friends who have been married 68 – 72 years. This generation stays together in marriage and family. When a person from the Greater Generation makes a promise, their word is their bond.
  8. Civic and
    Community minded:
    The Greater Generation have always been involved in community affairs by participating in community cleanups, supporting local schools, fire departments, police departments, churches, etc. From fundraising to joining a civic leadership organization to help their community, the Greater Generation has given us the legacy of community pride.
  9. Singing and Dancing Generation:
    This generation had some wonderful songs that were sung during war times. When I am with my senior friends singing songs during their activity times, they remember every word. This was an era where dating and courting was done through dancing. I love to see this generation dancing at social activities because they know how to have fun and their enthusiasm for living is contagious.
  10. Buy American:
    Because this generation has been through the Great Depression as well as World War II, they are so very patriotic to their country in buying American. From cars to clothes, they support the American cause!
    I end this article by thanking you readers who know that you are a part of The Greater Generation! You have worked so hard to give us a better world in which we need to embody you legacy. Your actions and words are truly a life lesson.