Tom Brokaw takes us back to the turbulent year of 1968 in a special 2-hour event on The History Channel. In effect, 1968 made us what we are today. The sixties was a pivotal decade and 1968 happened to be the most distinct year in that decade. It defined us, whether that's good or bad. "So much of who we are now, across a broad spectrum of interests, is rooted in the Sixties and particularly 1968," says Tom Brokaw.
1968 was the bloodiest year for Americans in Vietnam. The Tet Offensive was a three pronged military campaign launched by the North Vietnamese bringing a lot of death and chaos to the south.
The drug culture was running rampant, and the area of San Francisco, known as Haight-Ashbury was at the center of this counter-culture. Musicians like Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and others were so deeply entrenched in the drug culture that they ended up losing their lives because of it. The music was not the only part of society that was changing. Clothes and hairstyles took on new looks, and flower power was everywhere. People with tie-dyed clothes, headbands, beads, and flowers in their hair were the norm among the youth. Everywhere but middle America this was the look of the young generation.
1968 was also the year in which this country lost two of its most charismatic and influential leaders to assassins. First, Martin Luther King was shot in Memphis then Robert Kennedy was killed in California while campaigning for the presidency. His mantle was supposed to be picked up by Senator Eugene McCarthy, who defeated him in the Oregon Primary the week before, but McCarthy's lackluster campaign after Kennedy's death was not enough to propel him through the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The convention nominated Vice President Hubert Humphrey, but the main story of the week was the violence that took place outside on the streets of Chicago.
Race riots erupted, anti-war protests sprung up, and life in America changed forever. 1968 was indeed a time of change and violence, love and peace, music and death, destruction and birth.
This was the year in which Richard Nixon won the Presidency, The Smothers Brothers show took television to a new height of censorship, Elvis Presley became a father, and the anti-war movement as well as the women's movement caught fire. It was "a watershed year in contemporary history," comments Brokaw. "It represents evolution much more than it represents a separate and distinct path of development for American life."
Through conversations with Arlo Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Andrew Young, Rafer Johnson, Tommy Smothers, Pat Buchanan and others, along with incredible footage of the time, viewers get a well-rounded look at the year that changed America.
1968 with Tom Brokaw premiers Sunday, December 9th at 9 PM on The History Channel. If you lived through this time, this is a fabulous look back, and if you were not alive in 1968, this is a powerful lesson.