FIFTY YEARS OF CHANGE
This year, 2014, is a particularly odd mix of anniversaries that might cause you to think fifty years is not all that long, after all. 1964 was 50 years ago and several events of that year still affect us today.
In that year, the first Ford Mustang drove into American car lore from that Dearborn, Michigan plant. Currently, only about 65% of the parts even come from North America.
In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson announced his “war on Poverty.” At that time, the poverty rate was 15%. In November 2012, more than 16% of the population now live in poverty in the United States, including almost 20% of American children.
“Beatlemania” washed up on our shores in 1964, and two surviving Beatles recently were guests at the Grammys.
Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison in South Africa in 1964 and served time until his release in 1990. His recent funeral looked like a royal tribute.
Remember the friendly witch with the wiggling nose on Bewitched? It premiered on prime time in 1964 and ran until 1972. Today’s “sitcoms” are far from those in ’64.
The furthest reaching developments of that year would have to be the “The Civil Rights Act of 1964.” This essentially desegregated schools and workplaces. To this day, it is probably responsible for more social change than just about any Act passed since suffrage (women’s right to vote) in 1920. In 1964, Barack Obama could not have even legally eaten at many lunch counters in the South, but, today he is President. Maybe we will, one day, get to the point where we each can disagree with someone of a different ethnicity than us, without being called a “racist.”
Finally, the resolution called the “The Gulf of Tonkin” was passed in 1964. That led us into the full-fledged Vietnam Conflict involving the United States armed forces. In 1963, only 122 U.S. servicemen died in Vietnam. But in just 1968, 16,899 died! The statistics are still staggering: 58,286 KIA or non-combat deaths (including the missing & deaths in captivity); 153,303 wounded; 1,643 MIA (originally 2,646);725-837 POW (660-721 freed/escaped; 65-116 died in captivity). Thank you Veterans.
Fifty years hence, in 2064, history might well be writing about what we did today in 2014.