"Youth today is waiting for the hand of fate to fall on its shoulders, meanwhile working fairly hard and saying almost nothing. The most startling fact about the younger generation is its silence. With some rare exceptions, youth is nowhere near the rostrum. By comparison with the Flaming Youth of their fathers & mothers, today's younger generation is a still, small flame. It does not issue manifestos, make speeches or carry posters. It has been called the 'Silent Generation'."
-- Time Magazine, November 5, 1951; Vol. LVIII No. 19.
The Silent Generation were the American generation born from 1925 to 1945; these years were most obviously marked by the Great Depression and World War II. As they reached adulthood, this generation fought in the Korean War and lived much of their lives during the Cold War and an intensifying civil rights movement.
In America and much of Europe, this was also the generation with the lowest birth rate of any generation seen until that point, rates that would not be seen again until the mid-60s. This resulted in a significant demographic dividend, including improved schooling, lower unemployment rates, work for women, and a great infrastructure in place for the baby boomers.
Despite its name, this generation produced Malcolm X, Flannery O'Connor, Carlos Castaneda, Edward Gorey, Robert F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Alan Greenspan, Allen Ginsberg, Maya Angelou, Noam Chomsky, Jack Kevorkian, Walter Mondale, Fred Rogers, Andy Warhol, Whitey Bulger, Joey Lombardo, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Dolores Huerta, Pat Robertson, Jim Jones, Dian Fossey, Ted Kennedy, Tiny Tim, Jerry Falwell, Oliver Sacks, Charles Manson, Ralph Nader, Carl Sagan, Gloria Steinem, Elvis Presley, John McCain, Hunter S. Thompson, Kofi Annan, Pat Buchanan, Janet Reno, Marian Wright Edelman, Lee Harvey Oswald, Nancy Pelosi, Jesse Jackson, Muhammad Ali, and hundreds of other not-so-silent people.
This generation is also sometimes called the Postwar Generation, and in England, the Air Raid Generation. Because they were the first generation to be smaller than the generation before them, they have also been referred to as the Lucky Few. They have also been called the Seekers, although this is no longer part of common parlance.
Greatest Generation -- Silent Generation -- Baby Boomers