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WHAT THE CAMERA SAW / SPECIAL EDITION: A LOOK BACK
AT 1968

Age of Rage

July 21, 1998|BETTIJANE LEVINE

It was a very bad year. Our troops fought and died in Vietnam while the rest of us argued about why they were there. Draft cards and flags burned, reputations sank, antiwar protests spilled into the streets. And that was not the half of it. Strikes, sit-ins and bloody riots dotted the land, as various groups sought their share of the pie. Labor, poor people, minorities, students, all seemed to activate at once, as if on command. The result was a country in crisis, our cities in tatters, our dislocated lives punctuated by assassination, Cold War threats, nuclear terrors, and a general feeling that nothing would ever be the same again. And it wasn't. If you think things are imperfect now, just look to see how bad they were then. Then check in on these pages next week, to see how good things were at the very same time.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

ALSO IN 1968

JANUARY

5 Spock Spanked: Beloved baby doctor is accused of counseling youths to resist the draft. In June, he is convicted and sentenced to two years in prison.

17 Higher Taxes: President Lyndon Johnson asks for a 10% tax increase, plus funds to fight against rising unemployment, poverty and pollution--while continuing to spend $25 billion a year on the Vietnam War.

30 Pueblo Captured: A U.S. intelligence ship is seized by North Korean gunboats and 83 crew members are held.

31 Tet Offensive: The lunar new year (Tet) in Vietnam is a day of truce. But Communist forces launch a surprise attack, killing 81,000. The American public is confused: If we are winning, as our leaders say, how come the enemy remains so strong?

FEBRUARY

29 Race Wars: Riots, sit-ins and demonstrations increase. U.S. Commission on Civil Disorders reports that we are "moving toward two societies; one black, one white--separate and unequal."

MARCH

16 My Lai: Massacre by U.S. soldiers kills children, children, pregnant women, the old and the sick in the Vietnam village of My Lai. The attack is not publicly revealed for more than a year. The nation is outrged.

31 Johnson Bows Out: War-weary president orders U.S. troops to stop hostilities in much of Vietnam and announces, "I shall not seek, and I will not accept" a second term in office.

APRIL

15 "Shoot to Kill": Chicago Mayor Richard Daley instructs police to show no mercy in the event of more riots.

29 Student Sieges: Campus protests spin out of control. At Columbia, buildings and hostages are seized. At Northwestern, black students riot over scholarships and housing. Rebellions also occur at Stanford, Cornell, Duke and many other universities.

MAY

3 Peace Talks: U.S. and Vietnamese agree to talk, but squabbling soon ensues. U.S. deaths in Vietnam top 30,000.

ALSO IN 1968

JUNE

3 Andy Warhol Shot: The artist and filmmaker is wounded by a protege and withdraws as a creative force.

JULY

1-30 Biafra Famine: In a war with Nigeria, the Ibo tribe of Biafra is surrounded by enemy troops and deprived of food. Malnutrition kills 6,000 a day. World sends relief, but most supplies never get through.

23-24 Cleveland Ghetto Riot: Black activists and white police shoot it out in a ferocious, four-hour gun battle, which kills eight.

17-22 Israelis vs. Arabs: In one of 1968's many Mideast clashes, death reigns for six days on the West Bank.

AUGUST:

8 Nixon Nominated: Richard Nixon wins the Republican presidential nomination in Miami Beach. Gov. Spiro Agnew of Maryland is his running mate.

9 Newspaper Strikes: A strike that will last 267 days shuts down both of Detroit's newspapers. It follows strikes that closed newspapers in L.A. and San Francisco.

OCTOBER:

8 Peace Plan Rejected: At the U.N., Israel asks for a Mideast truce, but the proposal goes nowhere.

NOVEMBER

5 Nixon Elected: He becomes 37th president of the United States.

19 Teacher Strikes: In nine states, teachers walk off the job. In New York City, a strike paralyzes the schools for two months.

25 Soviets Aid Hanoi: The Soviet Union promises to supply military weapons and all other supplies to North Vietnam.

DECEMBER

8 U.S. Bombs Laos: U.S. stops bombing North Vietnam, but starts bombing Laos to close "infiltration routes and base camps."

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