Archive for June, 2010

Joining The “Grateful” Generation

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Yesterday was June 6th, the anniversary of D-Day. On that day in 1944, 300,000 Allies stormed ashore at Omaha, Utah, Juneau, Gold, and Sword beaches. The Liberation of Europe was underway. It was a day burned into the collective memory of “The Greatest Generation.” Baby Boomers like me were also well aware of it, thanks to movies like The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan. Most of us actually knew (or were even related to) guys who had served in World War II, the defining conflict of the 20th Century. It may not have been Current Events to us, but its aftershocks were still being felt – from our Armies of Occupation to our own Selective Service ratings (IA, IIS, etc.).

But lets be real – to the kids of today, that was a long, long time ago.

Let’s put it in perspective, shall we? Clint Eastwood, who is not only still active but still growing as a creative talent, recently celebrated his 80th birthday. When he was born in 1930, the American Civil War had been over for 65 years. But to Clint and others of his age, that war was ancient history, dating back to a time before radio, movies, and automobiles. Well, to a child born in 2010, WWII is just as ancient – it also ended 65 years ago.

Known to today’s young (if known at all) as “the war fought in black and white,” the Allies’ victory over the Axis Powers dates back to a time before TVs, computers, microwaves, and cell phones – not to mention I-pods, I-pads, and texting. In other words, Iwo Jima goes exactly as far back in the “olden” days to contemporary kids as Gettysburg did to Clint and his contemporaries.

So I understand why many teens and pre-teens today feel no personal connection to “The Good War.” The trouble is, just about everything they take for granted as Americans is a direct result of the shared sacrifice of an entire generation of Americans, many of whom are still with us today. (But who are dying at the rate of 1,000 per day.) Whether they fought in Europe or the Pacific, or simply tended their “Victory Gardens” here at home, World War II was everybody’s war, with all called upon to help out in their own way.

Like it or not, Boomers like me, and Gen X or Gen Y-ers will never be the Greatest Generation – that’s already taken. But there is still time for those of us who are the direct beneficiaries of the Greatest’s clarity of vision, and their willingness to fight or even die for our liberty, to become members of The “Grateful” Generation.

So while you still can, thank anyone and everyone you meet who did their part to win what is still called – 65 years later – “The War.” They deserve it. Join me and the rest of The Grateful Generation.

For A Seamless Reception – Think “Circus”

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Barnum and Bailey would have made great wedding planners! And no, that’s not an insult to planners.

But think – part of what makes a visit to the circus so magical for kids is that the action never stops. While the center ring is being re-set for the lion tamer’s act, rings 1 and 3 are filled with acrobats. And – if all three rings are in various stages of taking down and setting up props – a parade of elephants and/or clowns winds around the perimeter. There is never a lull in the action.

Two different upcoming brides have expressed concern to me this week over the prospect of “dead time” causing bored guests to leave their receptions early. Both had been to recent events where the band’s hourly intermissions killed the momentum of the party. My answer to them, and to anyone planning a wedding, is: learn from P.T. Barnum.

Have music playing (at a lively tempo, but a reduced volume) as soon as the first guest arrives. Keep it going, right up until the moment when the host offers words of welcome and the blessing (if any) is delivered. Start the music back immediately following the blessing (even if it’s only Memorex.) Keep the band or deejay going through dinner (again – at an appropriate level) until the cutting of the cake and toasts to the bride and groom. During that official business (in the center ring) is a perfect time for your music provider to get a short break.

I call such mini-breaks “invisible intermissions.” Your musical vendors are able to have a cup of coffee and make a pit stop at regular intervals, but your guests never notice their absences (because they are focused on you.)

Most bands and deejays will be happy to work with you on creating a “seamless” event (for which you will want to be generous with them in return). With a little advance planning and teamwork, your guests will swear that the music never stopped. To which you’ll be able to reply, “They did – but I made sure you didn’t catch them doing it!”