I was in the 5th grade. Things seemed pretty scary. We had survived 1968. Assassinations, marches, the Chicago Convention. We had yet to experience the horror of Kent State.
On Jan. 20, Richard Milhous Nixon was sworn in as the nation’s 37th President. I had the same out of body feeling years ago that I had today watching the 2009 Inauguration. That feeling came on the day I watched Nixon resign; we huddled around a generator powered black and white television in a cabin in the Black Hills National Forest. Hope is a thing with feathers that perches on the soul.
In March the U.S. Air Force began secret bombings of Cambodia.
July 18 Sen. Edward Kennedy drove his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, off Martha’s Vineyard, MA killing Mary Jo Kopeke, his passenger. I heard it on the news.
July 20 Astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first human to walk on the moon. He said: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” – I watched on television at Mary Beth Stewart’s house in Yankton, SD.
Aug. 16 About half a million people gathered on Max Yasgur’s 600-acre farm near Woodstock, N.Y., to hear rock music for four days. I was not there.
October 8 The Days of Rage: the Weather Underground’s first public demonstration was a riot in Chicago coordinated with the trial of the Chicago Seven.
Oct. 15 Millions of Americans demonstrated in their towns and cities against the Vietnam War. – Demonstrations were in my living room every night via Walter Cronkite.
Nov. 15 Over 250,000 people gathered in Washington to protest the war in Vietnam. I felt small and scared to grow up.
Nov. 16 The first reports of the My Lai massacre were published. Again, the television.
Dec. 4 Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton was shot to death by police while he lay asleep in his bed.
And today I watched in the Gym with the whole school assembled as Barack Obama was inaugurated president. Not a black and white television, but a huge projection on the screen from an HD antenna. We applauded along with all the people on the mall. I was not there. But I sat next to Dan, I had my (essential) box of tissues, and I felt connected.