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Remembering Forty Years Ago... 1968

It just hit me.  Right out of nowhere.  It is almost May, 2008.  Somehow, from somewhere, a memory came floating back into my mind's forefront... so I thought I would share it with you.

It was May, 1968.  I was in my third year of teaching seventh and eighth grade in a Catholic elementary school n a Cleveland suburb.  My homeroom... one half of the eighth grade... along with the teacher of the other eighth grade, with our combined 88 students (class size was 44 kids each)... and three sets of parents (six total) were going on a "eighth grade field trip."  How fun to end the school year on such a positive note !

I was 24 at the time... a real puppy now that I think of it.  So... away we went... two chartered busses... leaving from Cleveland, Ohio... and heading for Washington, DC.

Our first stop was Gettysburg.  We visited the hallowed grounds of the battlefield, and toured the monument sites, at once marvelling and being saddened by what had happened there.

Then... on to DC.  When we finally got to Washington, DC... we were met by "history in the making."  Washington, in many ways, looked like a flashback to Gettysburg.  It was like an armed camp.

Tanks, armored personnel carriers, Army troops with bayonets drawn... EVERYWHERE !  Protesters... tens of thousands of them, sight-seers, the local citizenry, and all of the government employees who worked in the Capital of our Country... .

Just about every single federal building was either surrounded or being patrolled by government tanks or heavily-manned HumVees... laden with soldiers.  Our two bus-loads of thirteen year-old kids, six of their parents, and their two teachers... myself and the other eighth grade teacher... we tried to tour one of the federal buildings... I think it was the Treasury Building.

When we got there... again... it was like straight out of the movies.  There was a short ledge.  It was even with the second-floor window ledges that surrounded the Treasury Building.  Standing on top of that ledge... were shoulder-to-shoulder armed soldiers with bayonets-drawn.

It was something all of us remember till this day... my students... their six parents, and we two teachers. 

Today there are many who are against the war in Iraq... and want very badly to bring our honored men and women, husbands and wives, children and parents... home from Iraq.  With all that going on... I could not help but remember a time gone by... a truly hysterical time... when our country was at war... with Vietnam... and seemingly also... at war with itself. 

Comment balloon 12 commentsKaren Anne Stone • April 27 2008 01:45AM

Comments

I truly think I was born in the wrong year - history is so intriging to me.... I would love to sit over several cups of coffee and hear your stories
Posted by Thesa Chambers, Principal Broker - Licensed in Oregon (Fred Real Estate Group) over 10 years ago
Wow! I have a feeling this date has the same vivid memories for you that the horrors of 9/11 have for me.  I will always remember where I was when I found out about the disaster.
Posted by Ruthmarie Hicks (Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605) over 10 years ago
Thesa:  Take heart, my dear.  Everyone was born in just the right year. In fact, some of us, if not all of us, have been born in several, if not "many" just-the-right-years.  Who knows ?  Not I !  Thesa... you are what... 36 perhaps... maybe 37 at the oldest ?? that would put you being born a year or two before my daughter... 1971 or so.  And... just for you... I would love to sit down... have some coffee at some riverside cafe... and trade stories with you for as long as you'd like.  Sleep well :)
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 10 years ago

Ruthmarie:  EEveryone has some of those special days that they will always remember.  Two that quickly come to mind for me are November 22, 1963 when Kennedy was shot.  I was on campus at John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio... a Jesuit University in a suburb of Cleveland.  I was walking along the quadrangle, headed for a class... when some of the dorm students stuck their heads out the window yelling... Kennedy's been shot, Kennedy's been shot.

Another was in 1991 I believe.  I was shopping in the Pentegon City Mall in Arlington, Virginia when one of the restaurant TV's blared out that Bush 41 had invaded Kuwait to smash Saddam Hussein and his goombah' out of the Kuwaiti oil fields and back into Iraq.

The third was was during the Chicago Riots during the Democratic Convention in 1968... but that one will have it's very own post one of these days.  Take care... sleep well !

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 10 years ago
Add to that list the assassination of Robert F Kennedy (JFK's brother) here in Los Angeles on June 6, 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel.  My partner Bob was there that night.
Posted by Cheryl Johnson over 10 years ago
Cheryl:  Yes... who could ever forget seeing that horrible chaotic scene... I think it was in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel.  It was so incredible when people realized that something like that could actually happen in America.  How all that caused so many of us to "grow up quickly" when we realized how much hate there was in the world... and it was aimed at us.  Heck... is wasn't even as far away as "the world... ," it was in our own back yard.  Cheryl... thanks for commenting.  Take care...
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 10 years ago
Karen Anne:  Growing up in the DC Metro area, it was all too commonplace for area students to set out for a musuem in the city, and be thwarted by a protest, march, or God only knows what.  I truly think that people, like myself, who grew up here, don't even appreciate the historical aspect that some of these events have.  It's like traffic to us.  Sometimes it's there, other times not.  I'm ashamed to say, I didn't even go to the top of the Monument until I was 23!!!  I was on a lunch break from the newspaper where I worked, and my co-worker (from Philadelphia took me).   
Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) over 10 years ago

Chris Ann:  I know exactly what you mean... about living there... and just seeing all the stuff that goes on as just another "everyday thing."  When I lived in Alexandria... it sounded so silly... giving directions... ok, drive up the the Pentagon, take a left turn, turn right at the Washington Monument, the pass the Vietnam Memorial... etc, etc.  We just got so used to it as being part of the landscape, it escaped us how people visiting the city saw it.  For us... back in 1968... which was the first visit for all my 88 eighth graders, and for me, too... it was an incredible sight.

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 10 years ago

Ah 1968!  I was born that year and I'm almost glad I was too young to remember (or know) anything.  Shortly after my birthday MLK goes.  RFK held me (I guess they hold babies on their campaign trails) and shortly thereafter he was gunned down.  We ended the year with the Tet Offensive.  Lovely!

It's interesting to hear your version of traveling to DC because I can't remember the last time I saw a soldier on guard there.  I've spent the last decade playing sports right in front of the White House or Washington Monument and the only 'disturbance' being a tourist not realizing he's walking through the outfield of a softball game.  I don't care for the tension that must have existed but I do wish that we had the passion today that existed back then. 

Posted by Tchaka Owen (Galleria International Realty) over 10 years ago

Tchaka:  It was probably not a real good thing to see, but it really does make one stop and think that if it happened then... it could happen again.  Troops in the streets... Dick Cheney's dream come true ~

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 10 years ago

Karen Anne-There is a blessing-or curse-that says something like "may you live in interesting times". I remember 1968 very well. I lived in Chicago during the protests at the Democratic Convention that were later called police riots. I was also in Washington DC for a march to protest the Vietnam War. Funny thing was that through all the problems we had as a country, there was a feeling that we could change the world. It was, to quote Charles Dickens, "the best of times it was the worst of times". In many respects we are in the same type of situation now. Hopefully the younger generation can change the world for the better.

Posted by Rich Quigley over 10 years ago

Karen Anne -- So you have a few years on me..your recollections are very vivid.

I was a pup in 1968 but I remember the Kennedy and King assassinations and Lyndon Johnson's speech about choosing not to seek another term.  Seeing Nixon elected was gut-wrenching.

Six years later, I was living in Jerusalem, listening to Voice of America report on Nixon's resignation in disgrace.  Things do eventually get better. 

Posted by Eric Kodner, Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island (Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes) about 10 years ago

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