1968 is described by historians as a “watershed year.” This is because of the major socio-political events that happened during this year in both Europe and the United States. A commendable number of lives were lost and innocent blood shed during this year in the United States. This paper investigates the events that made the year 1968, be described by historians as the “watershed year.”
As stated above, the major historical events that happened in the year 1968 were ignited by the socio-political unrest that was prevailing at the time. The United States government had involved itself in the Vietnam War and there were a great number of people who were against the decision.
This is because United States troops were being killed in increasing numbers in the war and the government had introduced a policy to be forcing young boys to go to war after college to replace the troops. This was one of the main reasons why there were protests in the United States in this year (Trebay, 2004, p. 1).
The protests were mainly conducted by students who were against the idea of going to war after college. These protests were countered by armed police who killed a number of innocent students. Although we had a couple of lessons to learn from these incidences of protests and innocent deaths, it is regrettable that innocent people had to die. Elsewhere in Germany, the students were not left behind (Fink, 1998, p. 51). They also protested the Vietnam War and extended their protests to reject their government.
After attack by the police, the German students staged more protests against their government which led to the closure of universities in the country. In Britain, students also staged protests against the war and also against a speech made by a British politician about immigration.
During the same year, 1968, women in the United States began protests aimed at getting the same rights as men. This added to the already existing protesting masses of students in the streets. However, there were some positive things that happened during this year like the astronauts who circled the moon during the year (Fink, 1998, p. P. 43).
Additionally, there was economic and political change brought about by major assassinations that were carried out in the year. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. were both executed in this year. Kennedy was assassinated in California after the announcement of his win of the primary of the state. The win, which was an indication that he would be the president, caused the assassination.
Among the political changes that took place following RFK’s death was the nomination of Richard Nixon by the Republicans who eventually won the elections to become the president of the United States. Martin Luther was assassinated in Memphis after he was involved in negotiations meant to strike a deal between employees and management of sanitation workers who had gone on strike (Trebay, 2004, p. 1). The death of Martin Luther King Jr. also led to a number of protests.
As evidenced in this discussion, the year 1968 was filled with protests initiated by a number of problems. These protests led to a number of innocent deaths which made the year enter in history books as one of the most tumultuous years in the history of the United States and Europe. Although most of the events that took place in 1968 are undesirable, we should be happy that they took place since they taught us many important lessons.
Fink, Carole. (1998). 1968: The World Transformed. California. Barnes & Noble.
Trebay, Guy. (2004). Ideas & Trends; 1968: That was the year that was. The New York Times, February, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/01/weekinreview/ideas-trends-1968-that-was-the-year-that-was.html?pagewanted=1?pagewanted=1 accessed June 23, 2010.