1968: A Year Of American Transformation

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In the duration of one year, 1968, the American national mood shifted from general confidence and optimism to chaotic confusion. Certainly the most turbulent twelve months of the post-WWII period and arguably one of the most disturbing episodes the country has endured since the Civil War, 1968 offers the world a glimpse into the tumultuous workings of a revolution. Although the entire epoch of the 1960's remains significant in US history, 1968 stands alone as the pivotal year of the decade; it was the moment when all of the nation's urges toward violence, sublimity, diversity, and disorder peaked to produce a transformation great enough to blanket an entire society. While some may superficially disagree, the evidence found in the Tet Offensive, race relations, and the counterculture's music of the period undeniably affirm 1968 as a turning point in American history. The political and societal ramifications of Vietnam's Tet Offensive indubitably illustrate the historical oddity of 1968. 1967 had not been a bad year for most Americans. Four years after the profound panic evoked by the assassination of John Kennedy, the general public seemed to be gaining a restored optimism, and even the regularly protested Vietnam War still possessed the semblance of success (Farber and Bailey 34-54). However, three short weeks following the eve of ‘68, Americans abruptly obtained a radically different outlook. The Tet Offensive, beginning on January 30, 1968, consisted of a series of military incursions during the Vietnam War, coordinated between the National Liberation Front's People's Liberation Armed Forces (PLAF), or "Viet Cong," and the ... ... middle of paper ... ...ace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane sang, "Now it's time for you and me to have a revolution" from their album Volunteers. After a period of unprecedented conformity, the sons and daughters of American society decided to convert the country. Ranging from developments in race relations to a newfound sense of artistic expression, America swirled with the winds of renovation. Perhaps it is easiest to look back at dusty pages for pivotal periods in the nation's history, however proof of transformation exists a mere 38 years ago; 1968 was a year worth remembering. Works Cited Farber, David, and Beth Bailey. The Columbia Guide to America in the 1960s. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.

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