It’s Already Been 50 Years, Say What???
Dedicated to Robert and Laurie Marshall, celebrating 50 years together.
Congratulations to my cousins, Robert and Laurie, on their golden anniversary year. Best wishes for the years to come.
This marks the 50th anniversary, a year to celebrate a long and prosperous union. Fifty years is a long time, a rarely long time for successful marriages these days. It is the occasion of great celebration and reflection. Consider all the things they’ve seen and done together, the new lives started, the farewells bid, the home created, the music made, the family and city led. When you really think about it, two people can really make a difference in their world. Of course, it didn’t take Robert and Laurie 50 years to make a difference but they can certainly look back and see the mark they’ve made.
Consider too, the potential unleashed in their children and grandchildren. Upon reflection, the remarkable world they stepped into as newlyweds in 1968 could have been intimidating and discouraging but they committed to each other anyway. True love has a way of changing outlooks and defying odds. Congratulations are definitely in order. The year they married was quite possibly the most tumultuous, chaotic and politically charged year in recent U.S. history. Everyone seemed to have an opinion, much like today, but there were no public mediums of expression, other than to take it to the street, write editorials or letters home or to one’s congressman.
Very many of the family celebrating with Robert and Laurie probably have no idea. This totally incomplete list is only representative and there are many online resources for further exploration including some great memoirs and political analyses.
There was music in the air
Herb Alpert had “This Guy’s in Love With You” at the top of the charts.
HAIR was a new concept musical on Broadway.
The Beatles’ had several chart toppers but “Hey Jude” was very long at 7 minutes.
Elvis was trying to make a comeback.
And, Robert had a lifelong interest in music that fueled his own band. Laurie has had to listen to it for 50 years.
Rumor of wars
The North Koreans seized one of our ships and created an international incident. The USS Pueblo with its crew was held for 11 months.
The Tet Offensive of the Vietnam War was a brutal, last-ditch effort by the North Vietnamese. But, fake news didn’t begin in 2017 so much of the public got it wrong.
Draft card burning was judged not to be an issue of freedom of speech by the U.S. Supreme Court.
There was a lot of civic and student unrest and riots on college campuses.
President Johnson signed the first iteration of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
The Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia (again) after that nation’s Prague Spring.
The political atmosphere was toxic
Martin Luther King was assassinated. Subsequent riots left 39 dead, 2600 injured and 21,000 arrested.
Robert Kennedy was assassinated.
The Black Panther Party actively promoted violence and confronted police in Oakland, CA.
The Fair Housing Act was signed into law.
50,000 marchers convened on the National Mall in a “Poor People’s Campaign.”
President Johnson declined to run again despite having been elected with a popular majority. The RNC nominated Nixon and the DNC met in Chicago and the city momentarily lost control. The Illinois National Guard clubbed and gassed antiwar protestors. This led to an epoch of change in police handling of civil unrest.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prohibiting the teaching of evolution violated the First Amendment.
There were also events that signaled hope
Private First Class James Anderson was the first Marine of African American descent to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Boeing put the 747 in the air as the newest, biggest passenger liner carrying 490 passengers.
CBS TV carried 60 Minutes in prime time on Sunday, where it remains today.
Apollo 7 was in space longer than the combined flight time of the Soviet attempts and broadcast messages with TV. Apollo 8 orbited the moon and came back safely.
After 267 years, Yale University prepared to admit women.
The first NCAA basketball game was broadcast on TV. Houston (Hayes) beat UCLA (Jabbar).
Exxon Mobile (former Atlantic Richfield and Humble Oil) struck oil in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska in the ceaseless search for energy independence.
Intel emerged as an entity.
Through it all
Well, that was just the first year they were married. What a memoir they could write! Go on, I know you want to. Google the events. There were dozens of history-making examples in 1968. Ask Robert and Laurie. Congratulate them first, of course.