7 September 2010
Year in Review
The year of 1970 had many cultural and social events that shaped our country. If certain events hadn't happened in this year, our nation and people would be different today. Some of the events affected certain generations or types of people, but there were also some that affected all of the United States and even the world. Many of the very influential aspects of this year are well known, even to our generation, but there are others that we don't have as much common knowledge about. This was a very controversial and influential year in history.
The Vietnam War is probably the most well-known event that was happening during the year 1970. The Vietnam War stemmed from the Cold War and direct U.S. involvement in the war started in 1964 (Berinsky 18). When the U.S. first got involved there were 23,000 American troops in Vietnam. By the year 1967 there were about 500,000 American troops in Vietnam (Berinsky 18). There was a content analysis of news magazine coverage of the Vietnam War that found that the pro-war message was much stronger than the antiwar message in the period from 1964 to 1968, it also showed that it reached its greatest disparity in 1966 (Berinsky 19). By 1968 citizens and even some government members were starting to be more antiwar than pro-war. After the United States’ set back of the Tet Offensive, the group of people who were opposed to the war became much more prominent. In 1969, President Nixon had said that he would be removing
25,000 troops from Vietnam and bringing them home (Berinsky 20). He had followed through with half of his promise, but instead of bringing them all home, he moved many to Cambodia and Laos in 1970 (Berinsky 20). By the year 1970 people were much less supportive of the war, and just tired of it. They didn't like the fact that they were lied to by their president and their troops still weren't home.
In my opinion, the older people in the U.S. were more supportive of the war than the youth was. Part of this could've been the youth were the people actually going to fight in the war. Another reason for this could be the "hippie movement" because that became a popular trend during this time. Hippies lived their lives based on peace and love. They were against violence and hurting others. Hippies were largely white, middle class and educated (Hall 410). "The Vietnam War provided a ready target for hippie opposition: the words "peace" and "love" became symbolically loaded terms, lumping together a call for military withdrawal from Vietnam, an attitude of mutual acceptance and trust between people, and a sense of personal awareness and happiness" (Hall 410). There was a unique style hippie morality and in the way that they expressed themselves. There is a famous photo of a hippie at a protest, putting a flower in the barrel of a National Guard's rifle, this is the way that they liked to make their statements. Hippies believed that the main goal of social order and government was to restrain and control everything that defined their lifestyle (Hall 410). Hippies also believed that drugs allowed one to see through the fake values of middle class materialism and into ones inner-most being (Hall 410). The artists of 1970 were all into the drug atmosphere as well. Some of the biggest artists of this time were Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Beatles, The Who and Led Zeppelin. They all were very open about
their drug use and many of their fans followed in their footsteps.
In 1970, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix both died drug related deaths and changed the way that people looked at drug use (Hall 391). Before this time there was a very positive and curious outlook on drugs by the youth of the world. After these deaths the hippie movement went completely downhill. "At this turning point the hippie urban frolicking turned into serious homelessness and poverty. The drug culture became more organized and dangerous underworld" (Hall 410). People also turned to harder drugs to get more of a high. The problem with this though is that those drugs had very negative effects and made people very violent. The hippie feeling was leaving the world slowly but surely. Even the protests started getting more violent and less organized.
The Kent State shootings happened on May 4, 1970. The Ohio National Guard killed four students and wounded nine others with 67 rounds and in 13 seconds (Bills 17). The students had been shot because they were protesting against the invasion of Cambodia. This then caused a student strike with about 4 million students involved (Bills 146). There were many protests and violent and non-violent demonstrations. When there were students protesting at Federal Hall there was also a counter-rally of pro-Nixon construction workers. This riot was called the Hard Hat Riot and this resulted in 70 people injured, and six people arrested. The Kent State shootings and then the Hard Hat Riot are both examples of the problems that the Vietnam War caused on the home front. People disagreed about many things and weren’t afraid to let the opposing side know it. There were many other protests and riots that initially stemmed from the war.
The youth of America did gain one very impressive right in the year 1970: the right to vote.
At the time the voting age was set at 21, but Senator Kennedy thought that it should be changed to the year that you are eligible to be drafted (TedKennedy). I agree that if you are able to serve your country, you should be able to have a say in who is running it. Before this, the only way that the American youth could voice their opinions about the government, or to the government, was to protest or rally. The youth of this time were more educated than previous generations and were ready for more responsibility as citizens. Other citizens who were still fighting for equal rights were women. Women in society were paid about 45% less than men, for doing the same exact job (WIC). In 1970 the government realized that in times of war, women make up over half of our country’s work force. They were made able to get a better education and more equal wages. By 1970 women could hold higher up places in office, get a fair education and do just as men do (WIC).
1970 was a very influential year for all types of people. American youth and women had great steps. The Vietnam War affected many people, on the home front and overseas. This would have been an amazing year to be part of the United States’ youth, and get to see all of these great changes happen. This year was the end of an era about peace and love and the beginning of a much more negative outlook on drugs. Trends came and went and affected the way that ideas were brought across. The youth stepped up and made their voices heard, although they sometimes also got punished for it. If the things that happened in 1970 had different turnouts, the country today would probably be more different, we might have even had to fight some of the difficulties we overcame in that year, today.