1968: the Year Everything Changed
Fifty years later, we are still living with the changes that took place in 1968, one of the most turbulent years in history.
Author John Updike called the sixties a "slum" of a decade and Walter Cronkite suggested that 1968 was the year when a "gloom zone" set in over the nation.
"It was," in the words of Mr. Cronkite, "a year when dreams died."
The year began with a serious setback in the VietNam war: the Tet Offensive, a tactical victory for the U.S. that turned out to be a major propaganda coup for the Viet Cong. The "Tet" marked for many the turning point when mainstream America turned against the war.
Later in January the Navy research ship U.S.S. Pueblo was captured and held hostage for a year by North Korea.
A few weeks later, liberal Gene McCarthy nearly beat the incumbent president, Lyndon Johnson in the New Hampshire primary. A few weeks later, the president announced that he would not seek reelection.
In the spring came what could only be called a man-made disaster, with the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Rioting ensued in several cities, and presidential contender Robert Kennedy spoke eloquently in MLK's memory.
A few weeks later it was RFK's turn to die by an assassin's bullet. His brother Edward would give the eulogy this time.
Hubert Humphrey emerged as his party's nominee that summer. As he accepted the nomination, a riot broke out nearby as anti-war protesters clashed with Chicago police.
Hubert Humphrey was, in the words of columnist Dave Barry, "a nice guy." Unfortunately, it was no time for nice guys. In November, the vice-president lost in an extremely close election to Richard Nixon, who went on to become, despite some encouraging moments, one of the most divisive figures in American history.
That's not to say there were no bright spots. In December Apollo VIII orbited the moon, setting the stage for the landing of Apollo XI the following summer.
There were some great new TV shows, including Hawaii Five-O, the news program Sixty Minutes and the ground breaking comedy variety show Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.
There were some memorable musical breakthroughs that year, including the Beatles' seven-minute magnum opus Hey Jude.
Still, it was a dark year for the world at large. And 1969 wouldn't be much better.