By Jeff Little
Turbulent, fun and enigmatic, the 1960's were years when Americans
mentally and socially grew like never before.
But what happened while
they did it?
In 1960, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was elected 35th President of the
United States. And while the 43-year-old Massachusetts native from a
wealthy family planned his move to the White House, regular working
stiffs earned about $2.50 an hour.
In 1961, the Berlin Wall went up in Germany and tourism went down in
Cuba as the U.S. broke off diplomatic relations with the island
nation. Later that year, the ill-fated Bay of Pigs incident occurred.
But the top story of 1961 was the first man in space (courtesy the
U.S.S.R.). 23 days later, the U.S. succeeded with a similar feat, as
Alan Shepard left our planet's atmosphere and successfully returned.
The U.S. narrowly averted a nuclear war with the Soviet Union in 1962
when the Soviets attempted building missile bases in Cuba. That
catastrophe over, Fidel Castro and the Cuban government freed over
1,000 prisoners that had been captured during the failed Bay of Pigs
invasion the previous year. Phew!
In 1963, the Washington-Moscow "hot line" communications link opened
and John Fitzgerald Kennedy's administration closed…prematurely.
shocking act of barbarism, President Kennedy was assassinated on
November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. Vice President Lyndon Johnson was
immediately sworn in as our new Commander In Chief.
Big news came via television in 1964, as a band called The Beatles
played The Ed Sullivan Show and caused a worldwide sensation. But
while rock 'n' rollers lived the good life, Nelson Mandella was
sentenced to life imprisonment in South Africa.
In 1965, Canada adopted a new flag and the United States adopted a
strategy of regularly bombing North Vietnamese villages and town. And
violence wasn't limited to Vietnam.
1965 was also the year of the
Watts race riots in Los Angeles, California.
John Lennon said, "We're more popular than Jesus now," in 1966. Most
fans said, "No, you're not." While fans of science fiction said,
"yes," to the first airing of Star Trek.
Having recovered from the "Jesus" controversy, The Beatles gave the
world the happy, peaceful sounds of Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields
Ironically, U.S. troops began their largest offensive of the
Vietnam War that same year.
Violence continued in 1968 with despicable acts of cowardice, as
assassins murdered both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.
The 2 acts of Grand Theft Humanity occurred mere weeks apart. But not
all the social unrest in 1968 involved homicide.
It was also the year
when incidences of mostly peaceful protest marches and demonstrations
condemning the Vietnam War rose to an all-time high.
And just as the world was thinking things couldn't get any more
tumultuous, exciting or amazing, still more incredible history
Near the end of the decade, 2 of the events most commonly
identified with the 60's took place in the same year.
1969 saw both Woodstock and mankind's first walk on the moon.
science marked the 1960's last year and provided a fitting end to one
of history's most important decades.
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