The sixties was a tumultuous decade. America went into a war that has lost the support and commitment of the American people. My interviewee was a college student then and he claimed that he had learned more in the streets than in the four walls of the classroom.
While American soldiers were fighting the Vietcong in order to liberate South Vietnam, they at home were fighting the government to bring home the American soldiers. According to him, “our soldiers were just being slaughtered in the battle for nothing. He believed that it was not a war that America should fight.
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While people gather around together in rallies and movements, there was a diversity of causes people fight for. While my interviewee was particularly concerned against the Vietnam War, his interactions with other activists led him to realize other important social ills that needed to be addressed.
He learned about the civil rights movement and feminist movement. The former were basically black people fighting against racial discrimination and seeking for equal rights particularly the right to suffrage. The latter on the other hand, were fighting against women’s rights. But in many cases, they assemble and joined together to stage a mass movement.
The rallies sometimes end up violent with the police committing brutality in dispersing the activists. But joining rallies were like a fad. It was fun, adventurous and liberating. In fact, the violence that occur form part of the thrill of joining rallies. Accordingly, many of those who joined were not really into the causes of the movements but were there for kicks. Rebellion seemed part of the youth culture of the sixties in order to be hip.
One of the most unforgettable experiences my interviewee had was his attendance to the most well known musical event that practically defined the 60’s, the Woodstock festival in 1969 billed as a three day celebration of music, peace and love (Schomp, p65).
According to him, over half a million people participated in the festival. As a dedicated activist, the Woodstock was really a united protest action against the Vietnam War but the media just sensationalized the nudity, drugs, and sex committed by the hippies in the event.
In my short interview with this acquaintance of mine, the events in the 1960’s seemed closely interlaced with each other and everything seemed to happen simultaneously unlike in the textbook where history is presented like separate and isolated events.
The 1960’s was indeed turbulent and riotous per my personal evaluation of my history book and as admitted by my interviewee himself. However, the book wasn’t able to capture the enjoyment and the ventures that people experienced during that time.
My interviewer commented that the sixties was indeed a time of serious transition in the American political sphere, but it wasn’t that dull, boring and uptight serious as written in the pages of a book. The youth was daring yet were still having the time of their lives.
Schomp, Virginia. The Vietnam War. 2nd edition. Marshall Cavendish, 2001, pp64-66
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