My dear children:
I salute you this way despite the fact that as the world has always reckoned these things you are no longer entitled to be called children. Most of you are in your twenties by now, some perhaps even in your thirties. Some of you have children of your own. Yet you are still our children, not only in terms of the technical definition of a generation, but because we are still so far from having closed our parental accounts with you. We are still so far, that is, from having completed that rite of passage after which, having imparted to you the ways of our tribe, we feel free to invite you to join the company of its fully accredited adults.
I am a member of what must be called America's professional, or enlightened, liberal middle class. Though you were once taken to represent the whole of your age group, it is no longer a secret that perhaps the most celebrated youth in historyyou, variously known as "our young people," "the kids," or simply "the young"—are none other than the offspring, both literally and figuratively, of this class. Not all of us, to be sure, are professionals. Some of us are businessmen or the employees of businessmen, some the employees of government, and some ladies and gentlemen of leisure. Yet it is as certain that we are members of a common groupsocial critics have taken to calling us, usefully if not precisely, the "new class"—as it is that you are our children. You, indeed, and our common property in you, are the primary means by which we make known our connection to one another. You all recognize this, of course, at least unconsciously (unconsciously is the only way most Americans permit themselves to know what they truly know about class). Thus you would have little reason to take in any way but perfectly for granted my preoccupation with you here.