“One thing you can always count on is change.”
Everything changes, nothing remains the same. That my friends, is a basic fact of life. Right or wrong, like it or not, change happens. In my lifetime I’ve seen our country go through many changes. It seems the pulse of America is forever changing. The masses are fickle and very easily influenced.
I came into the picture in September of 1951 back in the days of little pink houses, white picket fences, mom, cars, and apple pie! The American Dream! Everybody wanted a piece of it! A prosperous time in America. Automobiles were selling at an incredible rate, some families even had two cars in the driveway. Tract housing was going up everywhere and sold out long before they were even finished. Of course with the easy financing and low payments, the banks were offering Everyone was chasing the dream. Credit was the word of the day. Everything was changing.
Unfortunate, about the same time fear began to slowly spread into the minds of America. There were many things that brought it on. First, we entered into a cold war with North Korea in 1950 and even deployed troops.(my dad being one of them) People were worried. Also during this period, the ‘red scare’ was sweeping over the land. The threat of Communism was growing. The greatest fear was that the Communist were quietly infiltrating America, in a plan to overthrow the government, we were all in danger.
What I remember most about that period is the threat of nuclear war that hung over us. Russia and America were poised to launch a nuclear attack against one other and the mood of America was dark. I remember that air raid drills became a common occurrence. Every third Thursday at noon the sirens blared. I’ll never forget those crazy ‘ duck and cover’ drills we did as children in the classroom and on the playground as if falling to the ground and covering our heads like a turtle was miraculously going to protect us from a nuclear blast. But we all did it anyway. It was certainly an action-packed decade and things continued changing.
In the 60’s, courtesy of television and the nightly news, I watched our country change before my eyes. I saw us enter into a space race with Russia which culminated with us winning, with a manned moon landing in 1969. I saw the hatred and segregation in the deep south and watched churches and crosses burn, people beaten, shot and killed, in the great fight for civil rights in the south. It was terrible.
The assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, brought the country to its knees. A great leader and proponent of civil rights had been taken from us. I was only 12 when he was killed but I will never forget him. I know I changed a little that day, I think we all did.
Immediately the country began to worry, no one knew what changes the new president would bring to the country. It was scary. There was fear that Kennedy’s death would mark the defeat of the Civil Rights bill in Congress and the end of the great American Civil Rights Movement. President Johnson was, after all, from the southern state of Texas.
But no need to fear, old LBJ came through and in 1964 pushed the civil rights bill through Congress and it became law. But things change slowly in the south and the movement marched on.
In 1965 black activist and civil rights leader, Malcolm X was murdered. Three years later leader Martin Luther King was assassinated. Two months later presidential hopeful Robert Kennedy was also assassinated. And things just went to hell after that. People were angry and were showing it. There was
rioting, looting and burning in several major cities including Chicago and Los Angeles/Watts. Many people lost their lives.
Others protested the war that wouldn’t go away in Vietnam. They were violent times and the fear continued to grow just as it does today.
The Sixties were a definitely a turbulent decade, There was war at home and abroad, Woodstock, music culture, the drugs, war, politics, foreign relations, murder, and civil rights issues. It was also the decade I came of age. The decade where many of my core beliefs and values were formed. I was allowed to be a part of one of the most impactful decades ever.
That is not to say the decades that followed weren’t as dynamic. They all had their share of controversy, events, war, and rumors of war, technology, invention, race issues and sadly, the threat of nuclear annihilation is still alive and well today. So you see it seems the more things change the more they stay the same.
For me, the worst change that I’ve seen in our country has to do with our government. Congress, those fools on the hill have digressed and sold out Americans. They are politicians for one thing only, personal gain. They are the pawns of the lobbyist and rich backers and do little for their constituents back home. Unless their “what’s in it for me?” attitude stops, the needs of “We the people” will never be fully addressed.
The time for change is now and we need it soon. It’s time that the needs of the many outweigh the desires of the few. The winds of change are blowing my friends and the times they need a changing.