1968 and 1969 were years defined by the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, American astronauts being the first to walk on the moon, anti-war protests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and the New York Jets and the New York Mets were surprise Super Bowl and World Series winners.
Super Bowl II would be won by the Green Bay Packers when they defeated the Oakland Raiders on January 14.
Mister Roger’s Neighborhood would be seen for the first time on February 19, 1968.
March 16, 1968 would be one of the low points of the Vietnam War when between 374-504 unarmed civilians were killed at My Lai by United States troops. 2nd Lt. William Calley was charged with 22 of the deaths and sentenced to life imprisonment, but only served three-and-a-half years of house arrest.
President Lyndon B. Johnson announced on March 31 that he would not be running for president in the 1968 election. His decision resulted in the Democrats only having one president elected in the next 24 years, when Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976. It would be 1993 before Bill Clinton took office as the 42nd president and he would become the first Democratic president to serve two complete terms since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
April 4, 1968 started a year of assassinations and demonstrations, when Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated on the balcony of his Memphis motel room. Ironically only seven days later the Civil Rights Act bill was passed by Congress, which outlawed racial discrimination, which Dr. King had been fighting before his death.
Then only two months and one day after the assassination of Dr. King, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated while celebrating a win in California primary during his 1968 presidential bid. Sirhan Sirhan is arrested for the murder of Kennedy.
If Kennedy had lived to win the Democratic nomination, he may have defeated Richard Nixon in the 1968 election. Instead Nixon defeated Senator Hubert Humphrey by half a million votes.
The Yippies led by Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman would descend on Chicago and the streets of Chicago turned into a riot zone as the Yippies and other radical groups battled Chicago police, U.S. Army and National Guard, while the Democratic convention was being held.
The chaos on the streets of Chicago poured onto the Democratic Convention floor when Senator Abraham Ribicoff denounced the use of Gestapo tactics in the streets of Chicago. His remarks enraged Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago would could be seen yelling at Ribicoff.
Anti-war protesters in Chicago may have hurt their own cause. In retrospect they may have protested at the wrong convention since the Democrats were more on their side than the Republicans. The Republican convention in Miami was turmoil free, in contrast to the chaos in Chicago.
Richard Nixon would go on to defeat Senator Humphrey in the general election.
1969 was another year with many newsworthy events and January 12 of 1969 would see the New York Jets defeat the Baltimore Colts 16-7, after Jets quarterback Joe Namath had predicted the Jets would upset the Colts.
Richard Nixon would take office as the 37th president on January 20. The Beatles who had first sang in America almost five years ago would hold their last public concert on January 30.
Sirhan Sirhan admits assassinating Bobby Kennedy on March 3. Ironically seven days later James Earl Ray would plead guilty to assassinating Dr. Martin Luther King. Later that month former President Dwight D. Eisenhower died on March 28, 8 years after finishing his second term as president.
The first American troop withdrawals of the Vietnam War were made on July 8. Senator Teddy Kennedy would end any hope of becoming president, when he drove his car off a bridge on July 18, in what became known as the Chappaquiddick incident. Mary Jo Kopechne would die at the age of 28 in the submerged car.
Two days later on July 20, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, when the lunar module Eagle landed on the moon. It had to be ranked as one of the biggest stories of the 20th century. The first flight by the Wright Brothers in 1903 would have been another major advance in the 20th century. Their flight led to commercial flights by airlines in later years.
August 9, 1969 was a day of violence as Charles Manson followers killed actress Sharon Tate and four others. The next day August 10, they would murder Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their home.
August 15, 1969 will always be remembered as the day the Woodstock Music Festival kicked off on Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York. The promoters were expecting 50,000 fans, but those numbers were very conservative, considering 500,000 fans showed up.
August 17 would be another deadly day, this time because of Hurricane Camille which hit the Mississippi coast killing 248 people and causing damage of $1.5 billion.
The first ATM was installed in Rockville Centre, New York on September 2, while on the same day Ho Chi Minh, leader of North Vietnam died.
The Chicago Eight trial begin on September 24 in Chicago, but was changed to the Chicago Seven, when Bobby Seale a Black Panther was sentenced to four-year sentence for contempt of court.
Another New York sports team would win a championship, when the New York Mets defeated the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series. Seven years earlier the Mets had been the laughingstock of baseball when they posted a 40-120 record in 1962.
On a lighter note Sesame Street would be seen for the first time on the National Education Network on November 10.
While 250,000-500,000 demonstrators were protesting against the war in Washington, D.C. on November 15, Dave Thomas is busy opening the first Wendy’s in Columbus Ohio.
American astronauts would walk on the moon, only four months after the initial landing, four months prior to the Apollo 12 landing. Pete Conrad and Alan Bean would both walk on the moon.
With the year drawing to a close, a draft lottery was put in place on December 1 and would be the last major event of 1969.
A quick rundown of the events in 1968-1969:
Dr. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy Assassinated
Unarmed Vietnamese Citizens Killed By U.S. Troops
President Lyndon B. Johnson Announces He Will Not Run For Presidency
Anti-war protesters riot during the Democratic National Convention
Richard Nixon is elected president in general election.
Richard Nixon takes office of presidency
Withdrawal of Vietnam troops commences
Teddy Kennedy drives car off bridge in Chappaquiddick incident
Four astronauts become first men to walk on moon
Charles Manson followers kill seven in two days
500,000 anti-war protesters attend Woodstock Music Festival
Hurricane Camille kills 248 persons
First ATM installed in Rockville Centre, New York
Ho Chi Minh Dies
Chicago 7 Trial Begins in Chicago
250,000-500,000 demonstrate in anti-war protest in Washington, D.C.
Dave Thomas opens first Wendy’s
Sesame Street shown for the first time on National Education Network
Draft lottery is instituted