Decade Of War And Peace

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The sixties for many of us will be a decade that we will always remember.  There were so many changes that occurred that altered the thinking of those who lived in those years and those that  followed in the years to come.

The decade started with John F. Kennedy becoming President of the United States, beating Richard Nixon with a strong black voter support.  Sidney Coben's survey of 5,000 individuals who had taken LSD 25,000 times concluded it was safe.  Timothy Leary took up the drug study at Harvard. Martin Luther King and 35 students chose jail after arrest for a sit-in requesting service at a snack bar in Atlanta's Rich's department store.  Teens were twisting to Chubby Checker's music.  17 billion dollars was allotted for the nuclear missile program and military aid was increased in South Vietnam.

The space race was underway with Yuri Gararin from the USSR being the first man in space, followed shortly after by Alan Shepard from the US.  The Green Barets were the new anti-guerilla unit formed in the Marines.  Castro defeated the Cubans trained in the US in their attempt to invade Cuba.  Freedom Rides were made in support of the use of interstate buses and station facilities by blacks.  Nikita Khrushchev and Kennedy had the first summit and it was to be a diplomatic setback.   In East Germany border guards constructed the Berlin Wall.

In Liverpool Brian Epstein was to see the Beatles for the first time in The Cavern.  The youth danced the Watusi and Mashed Potato as the first two US Army helicopters landed in Vietnam.  King was back in jail again, arrested with some 250 demonstrators in Albany, Georgia.  As the first army support companies   arrived in Saigon, anti-nuclear marches of 4000 - 8000 were organized in Washington.  Leary continued his study of LSD even though his project was challenged.

The Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world closer to nuclear war and the US-USSR signed the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.  In Berkeley the sit-in against racial discrimination was held in San Francisco at Mel's Drive-in. Lee Harvey Oswald's bullet was accepted as the cause of Kennedy's death.  The world stopped in shock and horror.  Tears flowed from every corner of the world as the shooting of Kennedy and later of Oswald were played and replayed on television. 

The long walks began, Peace Walks, Protest Marches, Sit-Ins and later Love-Ins.  Ed Sullivan introduced the Beatles and Beatlemania was underway.   55,000 girls screamed at Shea Stadium as I Wanna Hold Your Hand was sung.  Joan Baez sang on the steps of Sproul Hall to protest the discipline of the four who took part in the police car sit-in.  King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The new American sales campaign was "Think Small" with the introduction of the Volkswagen.

The anti-Vietnam march in Washington almost equaled the 25,000 troops that were fighting in Vietnam. Amelia Newell opened her land at Gorda Mountain, Big Sur for the first open-land commune.  The move was on to legalize marijuana, sexual freedom and everyone was California dreaming.  "Hell No We Won't Go" was shouted as draft cards were burned. Police brutality was on the hot seat and the Supreme Court ruling in the Miranda case that suspects be entitled to be informed of their rights when arrested, right to remain silent and be told anything they said could be used against them and their right to an attorney.

Mississippi Negroes built tent cities under Lyden B. Johnson's window to protest housing conditions.  Masters & Johnson were extensively studying sexual responses.  Leary was arrested for possession of drugs.  Bras were burned and top-less dancing was performed in psychedelic light shows.  Hippies, Flower Children, Yuppies traveled the highways in their multi-colored vans to join in anti-war demonstrations.   The divorce rate was up significantly. The waterbed was introduced by a student for a class project.  Yogi Bhajan came to the States to introduce Kundalini Yoga.

The Walker report censured Chicago Police for their behavior during the "Police Riot".  Forty heart transplants were performed.  In Montreal 200 students smashed a computer with axes and set the computer center on fire during a sit-in protesting professor's racism.  Secret bombings of Cambodia started as 3,650 B-52's dropped four times the tonnage of bombs as was used on Japan in all of World War II.  King and Robert Kennedy both met death by assassins. Armstrong walked on the moon.  Charles Manson and his Family were arrested and some people blamed the music of the Beatles, Helter Skelter for the Manson beliefs that led to the Tait murders.

The sixties was the beginning of a world wide change in the views of rights for women and all  minorities.  It brought laws under question and changes to legislation for civil rights.  The fear of misguided power and the nuclear destruction frightened leaders into taking action to disarm.  Drugs were tested in every way possible and most not in clinical studies.  The young people that returned from Vietnam, many disabled, faced criticism for their compliance to fight in a war that most of the world did not understand or condone. The sixties was go-go boots, mini skirts, peace signs and the music of the decade expressed the fears and desires of the youth of that day.  It was definitely the decade of war and peace as people spoke out, stood up and sat down for the rights of individuals and the end to the fighting.

                           Cheryl C. Helynck


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