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Essay

1968: A dramatic year

By Kip A. Cates

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When we look back over the past, some years stand out as being special. One such year was 1968.

1968 was a year of conflict, war and violence. Soviet troops invaded Czechoslovakia, sending tanks into cities to end the Prague Spring. South Africa was banned from the Olympics because of its racist apartheid policy. Thousands of people were killed in the Vietnam War, which saw the My Lai massacre of innocent civilians by American soldiers.

1968 was also a year of youth activism. In the U.S., students organized campus sit-ins and took part in anti-war protests. In France, students took to the streets to demand educational reforms. University students battled riot police in Mexico, Poland and Japan. Idealistic youths worldwide chanted the slogan "Make love, not war" and joined demonstrations for peace, justice and human rights.

1968 was a dramatic year for women. It marked the first feminist protest against the Miss America beauty pageant, the first National Women's Liberation Conference and the decision by Yale University to finally admit women.

1968 saw the passing of a number of celebrities. These included Charlie Chaplin, the silent movie star; Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space; and Helen Keller, the blind and deaf activist who campaigned for the rights of the disabled.

In the fields of sports and culture, 1968 was marked by a number of events. These included the 1968 Olympics, the debut of the Beatles' White Album and classic science fiction movies such as Planet of the Apes and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

1968 was also a year of tragedy. Martin Luther King Jr., the black civil rights leader, was shot and killed in Tennessee. Robert Kennedy, the brother of President John F. Kennedy, was gunned down in Los Angeles. People around the world were shocked by these brutal assassinations and mourned the deaths of these inspiring figures.

1968 ended on a note of hope with the launch of the Apollo 8 space mission in December. During the mission, one astronaut took the famous Earthrise photo of the Earth seen from space. This iconic image helped to raise awareness of our global village and the need to protect the planet.

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the year 1968, a dramatic year in world history marked by war, invasions, assassinations and demonstrations. It was a year in which people around the globe, young and old, stood up to protest violence, sexism and racism and call for a world of peace, freedom and democracy.

This anniversary is a good chance for all of us to study the events of this dramatic year, to think about its legacy and to discuss what we can learn in our efforts to build a better future.

1968年:劇的だった一年

今から50年前の1968年は、筆者にとって特別記憶に残っている。戦争、若者の社会運動、キング牧師の暗殺など…この年にあった政治、社会の出来事を振り返ってみよう。

The Japan Times ST: May 4, 2018

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート

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