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The 1960s

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The 1960s cannot be appreciated unless we view it from the different perspective of people who were actually players of that time. It is best to see it from the eyes of a person who went to Vietnam, from a person who stayed home and fought for his civil rights and from an ordinary person who saw everything happen even if only in the TV.

A Vietnam War Veteran told me how it was during the 1960s. He was just turning 18 when he enlisted, he needed to because his father died when he was 8 and the Social Security was going to end when he turned 18. He had to send money to help support my six siblings. And was inspired by President Kennedy’s famous lines”Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.

He speaks of the Vietnam war as a humanitarian act of helping those in South Vietnam who did not wish to be controlled by the communists. He said that he was especially disheartened by the anti-war protest that were happening while they were in Vietnam , he claims that the protests added to our casualties by inspiring the enemy. Without the protestors, the list of 58,229 names that are now on The Wall would have been much much smaller.

The U.S. became polarized over the war. People approved and disapproved of the war. An Anti-Vietnam war person told me that the Vietnam War was the main, defining event of his life which taught him what evil is in human form. It was in the person of William Calley, that he saw evil, who ordered the murder of an entire village of poor peasants .Thus he became radical, as the story goes for most Americans who were not in Vietnam. They did everything to stop the war. This movement was fueled by the hippy vision of nonviolence and creative transformation. They were the generation who proclaimed a celebration of Love and Peace in the midst of a society insane with war, racist violence, and intolerance towards individual freedom. However there were those who were more radical who resisted drafting and there were those who came to the point that they set themselves on fire as protest.

The third person I interviewed said that the 1960s was a decade of a cultural revolution, the post war babies were going to the universities where they learned a different view of life. The universities back then was the center of debate and protest against the Government’s war policies. They were protesting the drafting of their fellow baby boomers who at their age couldn’t vote nor buy beer yet but are being sent to Vietnam. For him the war on Vietnam was not the thing that happened during the 1960s.

The 1960s saw the rise of the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King Jr.. Liberal thinking was at its peak at that time that the Supreme Court held that prayers in public schools were unconstitutional. Respect for authority declined among the youth, and crime rates soared to nine times the rate of the 1950’s.  The hippie movement was also at its peak, the hippies endorsed drugs, rock music, mystic religions and sexual freedom, many of them moved to East Village in New York to live in Communes.  The Woodstock Festival was held where hundreds of thousands gathered in a spirit of love and sharing.

The 1960s is known for the libertine attitudes that emerged during this decade. It is marked by the American Civil Rights Movement, the rise of feminism and movements for the advancement of gay rights. Most importantly, it is the decade when the United States engaged itself in the infamous Vietnam War. Today when we think about the sixties we connote it liberal thinking, radical views, subversive and dangerous events. Who could forget the British invasion brought by the Beatles? And the time when Kennedy was president? The Americans did not only reach Vietnam in the 1960s, they have reached as far as the moon.

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