What with catching Selma last week, and yesterday being Martin Luther King Day, I thought it timely when I saw that THE (Time Home Entertainment) had a book on the news stands called, The 1960s: The Decade When Everything Changed, with an archive picture on the back cover of Dr. King on the Washington Mall after giving his “I had a dream” speech. On the front were pictures of President Kennedy, the Beatles, Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon, and American soldiers of Pegasus mission helping to lift the siege of Khe Sahn (1968).
I’m not sure who the target audience is. Is the magazine meant as a teaching tool for youngsters, a history book for people who came after the ’60s, or nostalgia for those of us who lived through them and perhaps vividly remember them but don’t often think about them? Whatever its intent, I purchased the book and have picked it up many times over the last few days. The ’60s certainly were interesting to live through and their events make an eclectic collection, touching every area of culture and beliefs, and every phase of life from sports to opera, politics to justice, rock and roll to equal rights.
There is an extremely insightful foreward by Tom Brokaw, whose career covered the events and whose family lived and exemplified them. He talks about marrying in ’62 and says his bride, Meredith,
was superior to me in every way — brains, beauty, organizational skills — but she willingly followed my career path through Omaha and Atlanta to California, where I joined NBC News just in time to report on and stick my toe in the decade.
Then, talks about being the suited newsman during the week and part of the hippie revolution on the weekend, and all of the values (of establishment) being challenged and questioned, and how Meredith balanced traditional motherhood with being a force for change, working with non-profit organizations, being a corporate board member, and opening “a small chain of toy stores”. It was a time of hope and promise quite likely to never be repeated.
The book highlights the Camelot White House, Elvis’ return from the military, Cassius Clay at the Olympics (1960), the Bay of Pigs debacle, the British Invasion (rock and roll, not military), 3 assassinations, Freedom Summer, the Viet Nam war, anti-war demonstrations, Watts, Woodstock, Black Day in July, and, of course, reaching the moon. And everything else in between. It was not only a time of change, but a time of highs and lows. If some of these events don’t ring a bell with you, you should find out what they were about; they shook the world, for good or ill. Buy the magazine or search them online, but find out. We lived in extraordinary times and our world is a product of those times. !