A Plinky prompt from today asked “What are the 3 most significant historic events that have occurred in your lifetime?” I grew up in the 1960’s, which was a decade of unparalleled change in our country, so picking the three most significant events was difficult. Below are the three events that I came up with today, but on another day I might choose three completely different occurrences.
The first was Vatican II, and all the change that happened in the Catholic Church due to what was called the Ecumenical Council. One Vatican II change that affected my family quite personally was that many religious orders of sisters were given the freedom to go visit their families at their homes. I had three aunts and two sisters in the convent at this time. Growing up, we were able to go visit them, but they could not come to our home until this change in the 1960’s, when they were given papal permission to leave their residence. It was a very exciting and happy day to have the Aunties come visit, even if Mom was almost driven crazy by us kids making a mess of the house after she had spent so much time making it look especially inviting.
The second was the Viet Nam War, which was escalating as far as participation by the US in the 1960’s. One of my older brothers, Paul, a Marine, made three tours of Viet Nam. He was in an outfit of misfits, called the Baa Baa Blacksheep. During his third tour, the helicopter he was in was shot down, and crashed in the jungle. He was badly injured, but was brought out successfully and sent to hospital for surgery on his jaw, which needed to be wired shut. He also was placed in a full length cast for a fractured leg. He did his final convalescence at our house, which made life interesting, and a little scary, for us younger kids at home. You can imagine how monster-like Paul seemed to us with his crutches and plaster casted leg, and his inability to speak because of all the wires in and around his mouth. Plus, we had seen his outbursts of anger and frustration, and didn’t want to get caught in the maelstrom if he got mad. We learned to observe him at a distance, this man who seemed to bring some part of the Viet Nam War with him everywhere he went. When he finally left our house, he came back only for brief, uneasy visits.
The third 1960’s historical event that I recall was racial integration, which was a time of rioting, danger, courage and hope. It seemed that every night the papers and the news showed neighborhoods being destroyed, blacks being sprayed with fire hoses and demonstrations being held somewhere by some group or another. I recall thinking, “Won’t there ever be a night when the news will be free of all this hate between races?” It was continuous turmoil in those years; not in Yemen or Libya, but right here in the USA.
I was between the ages of 8 years old and 18 years old during this period of time. I considered it a great relief to be out of the 1960’s.