AV-8B Harrier jet – capable of hovering in mid-air.

This week I read two articles on perspective. Kimberly Stefanski wrote one, and the other was a short video by Gary Vaynerchuk. I liked the format Kimberly used, and I am adopting a portion of it for my article today.

My father was born in 1920. Before he was ten years old, the Stock Market Crashed, and he entered his pre-teen and early teenage years firmly mired in the Great Depression. Nevertheless, before he turned 20, he joined the Navy and eventually became an enlisted pilot. He flew seaplanes, helicopters, multi-engine, experimental, jets, and VIP – finally flying in 77 different types of aircraft.

The day I was commissioned in the U. S. Navy, I brought my father into our barracks to see my room. Before we got near it, he told me that his room was the second door on the left when he was going through flight training. It was also my room.

As WW-II was winding down, the first atomic bomb was detonated – ushering us into the Atomic Age. When the war was over, he was 25 years old and married my mother. A year later, I was the first of nine children. Within two years, the sound barrier was broken.

My father was a jet instructor in California during the Korean War. He retired a couple of years after Sputnik was launched in 1957 – entering another AGE – the Space Age. Alaska and Hawaii became states two years later, in 1959.

Then, when he was 43 years old, President Kennedy was assassinated. I remember him getting a letter off his desk and framing it – an invitation to the Dallas visit of the president. He turned 49 when a man on the moon talked to Houston Control.

A few short years later, my father saw two of his seven sons depart for Vietnam. Both of us returned home safely. But, unfortunately, my brother died in a scuba diving accident the same year Vietnam was declared ended in 1975.

Technology advanced rapidly as my father retired in the early ‘80s. I remember being at an airshow and watching my father’s expression as an AV-8B Harrier jet aircraft hovered in front of us.

My father never finished high school – he did complete a GED after ten years in the Navy. He did become a Registered Professional Engineer, Mayor and held many offices in fraternal, military, church, county, and state. He was honored to be part of the original video at the National Naval Aviation Museum representing enlisted pilots.

He survived many events – Great Depression, WW II, Korean War, the Vietnam War era, the moon race, Cold War, statehood, and more. His perspective was formed by his early life experiences and honed as a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy. He used his perspective to separate accuracy and truth from his daily world.

He was not able to survive cancer and passed away after 84 years. However, many of his perspectives were firmly planted into my psyche. I see the world differently from him, but I did not have his earlier gut-level experiences to draw upon. We sometimes fail to appreciate or understand other peoples’ perspectives on life, education, work ethic, politics, religion, etc. either because we do not know their personal life experiences or we lack depth in our life’s learning.

Perspectives change as we read, travel, and exchange ideas. We expect many of us to expect younger generations to know things already because history is there for them to learn. However, unless you live through something, history is nice but does not leave emotional indentations on the tiny gray cells in our brains.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com



3 Responses

  1. This commentary absolutely fascinated me.
    At this point in my life I am almost 73.
    As I look back I have begun to realize that what to me and others of my generation were soul-affecting events over the years, such as the life-changing, gut-wrenching reaction to the assassination of President John F Kennedy right after I turned 15. My life has included seeing on tv Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchwv bang his shoe on a table at the UN and threaten to “bury” us, civil defense self help classes that taught me at age 14 how to deliver babies in a nuclear fallout shelter, an opportunity to witness live via TV, man’s 1st step on the moon when I was not yet 21, the arrival into my life of the microcomputer, about which I knew nothing in 1977, and very recently a ride in a Tesla. And now any of these events that were common to others at the time are mere footnotes or bullet points in textbooks and history books. When I met rhe great grandson of Nikita Khrushchev working in Fry’s EElectronicson the SW Freeway in Houston.I was astounded to my core. And yet when I related the story to those under 50 they were clueless as to who Khrushchev was or the power he had to destroy the world. I suppose this is all referred to as growing old and the March of time.

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