The 60s – The Shape of Things to Come Part 5

From President John F. Kennedy’s speech at Rice University, September 12, 1962:

“…If I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun–almost as hot as it is here today–and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out–then we must be bold.”….

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

On July 29, 1969 at 4:18 PM, Neil Armstrong transmitted:

Houston, Tranquility Base here.  The Eagle has landed.

Americans, rising to a great challenge from their President placed men on the moon.  At 10:56 PM, Neil Armstrong transmitted the following message as the first man to set foot on the moon.

That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.

Visionary leadership willing to challenge our country to achieve great things is powerful.  Some things are so grand and important that they transcend ideological squabbles.  Those traveling the halls of Washington, DC would do well to take that great leadership lesson to heart by walking away from pettiness and seeking greatness.  Unfortunately, it appears the lesson did not make it out of the 60s.


Certainly there are other events worthy of mention and it would not be proper to leave the decade without talking about the Woodstock Rock Festival or the British Rock and Roll invasion, but I have never been accused of being proper.  Besides, these events are merely extensions of the Hippie counter culture.

With all that happened in this decade, what most decided what we are is where we were when?  It may have been the culmination of events.  There is high probability that each of us experienced different life-shaping events.  But in my humble assessment beginning in the 1960s the walls between groups, ideologies, and culture have grown thicker and taller.  Crossing it to find middle ground and common sense is most times a reach too far.

Out of the 60’s we became a people at war with ourselves.  We are unable to share the American pie as one side must always dominate the other.  One identity group must be preferential to all the others.  The media, not confounded by facts, hold and build on the power of persuasion they come to realize in the 60s Vietnam era.  We either hold to a higher moral authority or we completely reject it and have little tolerance for any who believe differently from us.  On that topic, we cannot even listen to one another.   We either accept our founding principles or reject them.  America is either an exceptional country or it is not.  And it goes on and on.  Idealism whether right or left, hyphenated identities and whatever group think we are part of takes precedence over the value of relationships.  We cast off friends because of who they voted for.  With our unyielding ideologies we have become incapable of doing what is best for our country.  Certainly no group, except in their own view, has cornered the market on good ideas.  What we are is where we were when.

It may be hard to accept that people and events from one decade can have such and impact for decades to come, but what I see today does not differ from what I saw and experienced during the 1960s. It is only more magnified and more dug in.  If Dr. Massey’s theory is proven, then it is altogether possible that people from this generation will understand that we are now a broken society and they can see why.  And just maybe if we can survive as a country our children and grandchildren will inherit a country not in social, political and cultural upheaval.  Because of where they were when.

Copyright © 2017 J. D. Pendry

The 60s – The Shape of Things to Come Part 4

We staggered out of 1968 and into 1969 to begin the trial of the Chicago 7 or 8 depending on where you plug into the story.  It was the trial for those charged with crossing state lines to incite riots during the Democratic Convention.  If you’ve watched any of the dramatizations, are old enough to have seen some of the actual coverage of the trial, or have read any about it you know that it was a circus and nothing more than a platform from which the defendants could continue with their anti-war protest.

The defense attorney for the seven was William Kunstler one time ACLU Director and a civil rights lawyer.  His eulogy written by Ronald L. Kuby and recorded in the book: In Tribute: Eulogies of Famous People by Ted Tobias reads in part:

As the movement to end the war in Vietnam came under mounting governmental attack, Bill Kunstler pioneered new methods of defense – bringing streets into the courtroom, and the courtroom into the streets.  While defending the Chicago Seven, he put the war in Vietnam on trial – asking Judy Collins to sing “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” from the witness stand, placing a Viet Cong flag on the defense table, and wearing a black armband to commemorate the war dead.

That sums up the entire fiasco.  Most of those tried were convicted but later cleared by the appeals courts.  Some of the anti-establishment protestors went on to lucrative capitalist careers and teaching.  Pat Hayden, former Jane Fonda husband, went on to be a California politician.

The Marxist/Socialist Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) splintered and gave birth to other radical organizations one of which was The Weather Underground or Weathermen.  Its prominent members, Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, were somewhat in the news in recent years because they were friends and colleagues of Presidential Candidate Barack Obama.  This terrorist group is credited with 25 bombings and the murder of two police officers and a Brink’s guard.  In a New York Times column “No Regrets for a Love Of Explosives; In a Memoir of Sorts, a War Protester Talks of Life With the Weathermen” by Dinita Smith published September 11, 2001, Ayers said:

“I don’t regret setting bombs.  I feel we didn’t do enough.”

Mr. Ayers, who spent the 1970’s as a fugitive in the Weather Underground, was sitting in the kitchen of his big turn-of-the-19th-century stone house in the Hyde Park district of Chicago.

And where did the unapologetic domestic terrorist who regrets he didn’t bomb more spend his later years?

Mr. Ayers, who in 1970 was said to have summed up the Weatherman philosophy as: ”Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that’s where it’s really at,” is today distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago .

Ayers is an anti-American, anti-military, self-professed small “c” communist, and terrorist living the dream and sharing his ideology with college kids.

Isn’t that a great segue into the Charles Manson cult murders?  The peace and love generation meets psycho Charlie and his family of killers.  Manson was a manipulator, the primary cult leader attribute, who gathered up followers whom he convinced to commit gruesome murders in his quest for “Helter Skelter” (from a Beatles tune).  In his view, Helter Skelter was a race war where in the end, after all white people were dead, he and his band of merry psychos would emerge as leaders.  The Manson cult committed the Tate – LaBianca murders on successive nights August 8 – 10 1969.  Fashion model and actress Sharon Tate was 8 months pregnant when Manson’s killers repeatedly stabbed her in the stomach.  The LaBianca murders were just as bad.  Evil did and still does walk the face of this earth.

Copyright © 2017 J. D. Pendry

The 60s – The Shape of Things to Come Part 3

In Vietnam beginning 1968, Americans were still fighting.  On the Lunar New Year holiday of Tet the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong began a massive offensive.  By the time it was over, facts showed it was a military disaster for the north.  That was not the story brought to war weary Americans.  There was much misreporting of facts and events all topped off by the editorializing of the “most trusted man in America” CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite who told Americans the war was at best a stalemate and maybe unwinnable.  It was not a report.  It was an editorial unmindful of facts.  Supposedly Cronkite’s assessment ended Lyndon Johnson’s aspirations for a second term.  It is also the time when the political will, if it ever truly existed, to win the war ended.  And some things remain the same.

After Vietnam, our military was worn out from years of repeated combat tours, inept politicians and what appeared to them then as a wholly ungrateful public. And all of it brought to them and the rest of Americans by a lying and antagonistic news media.

What is left of that generation of Warriors is leaving us. As we look at Iraq and Afghanistan, the toll that those wars have taken on our military, the corrupt governments it is asked to defend and support, the civil and political discourse that we see each day in America, we can only conclude that the liberals have fulfilled yet another of their self-fulfilling prophesies. Making this just another Vietnam. – Just Another Vietnam, March 25, 2012

Records show that more than 21, 000 Americans were killed after 1968. It was a year that militarily the war could conceivably have ended.  When the press abuses one of our most important freedoms, a free press, it is costly.  It is costly in lives and lost freedom.  Today, there is more editorializing than there is news.  Too many want to be Mr. Cronkite steering the mood of the nation.  Every “news” reporter seems to want to be a commentator like Rush Limbaugh not realizing if they truthfully reported all of the news, there would be no audience for a Rush Limbaugh.  Then again, Americans today run on emotion more than reason.  A news program reporting facts minus red meat editorials would probably have too few viewers to survive.

From the Tet Offensive, all the way up to Benghazi, and points in between and beyond the press by choice have gotten it wrong.  Americans have paid for this ideological warfare waged against our country.  In politics, when someone declares the media is the enemy in too many instances they are not too far off the mark.  In all the years they’ve been following Mr. Cronkite’s example they have never centered, never moderated, never painted America or her Armed Forces in a positive light and as current events demonstrate they intend to double down until they are either embraced or totally rejected by the American people.  In any instance it is a lose-lose for America.

We cannot leave 1968 without talking about the Democratic Convention held in Chicago August of 68.  The Youth International Party (Yippies) the radical political activist side of the Hippie pot fogged and LSD driven counter-culture (my assessment) spent a lot of time and energy getting demonstrators to converge on Chicago and the Democratic Convention.  I was living in Chicago, but my experience with the week-long demonstrations and riots consisted of watching the television coverage.  With my brother barely home from Vietnam and being raised in a culture that valued military service, I never connected with the Yippie Hippie anti military counter culture or however you choose to describe it.  Protestors carrying the flags of our enemy in their anti-war demonstrations never set right with me and still don’t.  What remains most vivid to me was the television coverage.  The demonstrators chanted “the whole world is watching” as the Chicago Police beat the daylights out of some of them.  Of course it was the bloody demonstrator and not what transpired beforehand that made the evening news – “And that’s the way it is” according to Mr. Cronkite et al.  Today, we have organized paid protestors all over the country rioting, attacking people, and looting.  I have even heard them chant “the whole world is watching” and heard media types breathlessly hope for demonstrations worthy of 1968 for the 2016 Republican Convention.  What you are is where you were when.

Copyright © 2017 J. D. Pendry

The 60s – The Shape of Things to Come Part 2

At the 1968 Olympics, rather than show reverence for our flag and country by placing their hands over their hearts two athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, chose to raise black power salutes.  Today some professional athletes take a knee rather than showing respect to our country during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.  Flag burning popularized by 60s anti-war protestors and draft dodgers is a new pastime for every grievance.  There is no prayer allowed in schools, but there are LGBT studies.  Christianity is the religion of choice for ridicule and insults without ramification.  Recently, when a group of Christian Pastors prayed for our President and laid hands on him, some in media thought this common Christian practice “very strange.”  The 60s is when we began our push away from God and allegiance to our founding principles – we chose to forgo subservience to a higher moral authority and deemphasize knowledge of our history.  Now some are hell bent on eradicating a defining time in our history hoping to remove the fact that there were two sides in our Civil War.  We have traveled a good distance and continue to move farther away from where our beginning.  Have reached the proverbial fork in the road?  Time will tell if we choose the right way.

In 1964, Congress passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act called for by President John F. Kennedy.  It is considered by some as the most important legislation of our time.  From this time, come important lessons.  One is the media’s and academia’s ability to reshape history by leaving out important facts that may not suit a preferred narrative.  This was legislation called for by a Democrat President and signed into law by his successor. However, it was Southern Democratic Senators, segregationists and sons of the KKK including West Virginia’s own Senator and Kleagle and Exalted Cyclops Robert Byrd that filibustered for 60 days.  Without Republican votes, the filibuster would not have ended and the legislation would not have passed.  Today you would be hard pressed to find an average citizen who knows that and if you listen to some current day politicians and activists you’d think nothing good ever came of the law except for its use as a bludgeon to paint someone or some entity as racist.  Another important lesson is that if there is significant legislation Democrats and Republicans, for the good of our country, must be able to work together to get it done.   Daily observations of current time tell us it’s not likely.  We have become so radicalized in opposite directions that the solution most politicians want at the expense of everything else is total domination and destruction of the opposing party.  Or they are so hamstrung by special interests and the perpetual need for their campaign donations that they are unable to act in the best interest of the American people.  Ideology and politics getting in the way of solving problems is not new, but the chasm has grown much wider.


In 1968, much happened and that’s probably the understatement of the decade.  A few months apart, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated.  Reverend King was killed by prison fugitive and segregationist James Earl Ray and Senator Kennedy by Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan.   Following Reverend King’s assassination, there was rioting across the country.  Some of it was in Chicago where I was living.  There was property destruction and looting that certainly did not follow the King model of non violent civil disobedience.   Looting however is still a popular offshoot of senseless rioting.

Copyright © 2017 J.D. Pendry

The 60’s – The Shape of Things to Come Part 1

Some years ago, I watched an enlightening presentation by Dr. Morris Massey PhD “What You Are Is Where You Were When… Again! With Morris Massey.”  Dr. Massey theorizes that major events during your lifetime determine your worldview.  Those experiences solidify what you value, what is most important to you, and what drives you.  The best example supporting the theory is that if you lived during the Great Depression you are likely more focused on saving money than spending it.

The 1960s were my impressionable years.  It is the most influential period for people of my age group, the baby boomers, including those now in corporate leadership, holding professorships, and running our government and its myriad of agencies.  Much happened to shape thinking of individuals and groups.  Aside what it might mean to you personally, what does it mean for America?  Similarly, what do the experiences of other generations say about our future?

The tumultuous decade set American culture on a course from which we have rarely veered.   Worldviews firmed for many launching them off into society ideologically fixed yet headed in radically opposite directions.   It was a time of political activism, anti-war/anti military protestors, draft resisters, the counter-culture hippie revolution, the drug culture, women’s liberation….  The 60s was a Mount Saint Helens, a giant volcanic eruption blasting us toward a societal tipping point.  For me, I knew little of life or the events that would determine my future or that of my country.  I was a kid.  Politics or political movements did not preempt childhood adventures.  For that I am grateful.  I did not reflect on it until much later, but some events did shape my future thinking.  My thinking solidified possibly much earlier than it should have.

On November 22, 1963, at Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  Anyone old enough to retain a memory of the time can tell you where they were when it happened as clearly as they could if it happened today.  I was on the outdoor dirt basketball court of Wyoming Elementary School, Wyoming County, West Virginia.  Our coach, 6th grade teacher and school Principal Harvey Stoneman was teaching us the fundamentals of the game.  Train tracks for coal cars ran past our school.  Our little league baseball coach and coal miner Jim Warner, relative of Pineville High School, Penn State, Seahawks and Rams running back Curtis Warner, came walking up the tracks.  He yelled out to Mr. Stoneman that someone just shot the President.  Mr. Stoneman told him that was a bad joke to make in front of the kids.  Jim somberly replied that it was not a joke and someone had shot the President in Dallas. Most West Virginians of the time recall future President Kennedy and wife Jackie visiting the state multiple times including the southern coalfields.  For me, that is the earliest recollection of a significant event of the 60’s.  There have been other assignation attempts, Presidents Ford and Reagan come to mind each a reminder that the most powerful and protected person in the world is never completely safe.  The reality is more worrisome when there is so much media, political and professional protestor hatred directed towards our sitting President.  Americana changed that day.  Our Presidents can no longer drive through town centers smiling and waving from open automobiles.

Also in 1963, the Supreme Court of the United States declared as unconstitutional school sponsored prayer and Bible readings.  I was oblivious.  What elementary school child wouldn’t be?  Through my first years of elementary school my classroom days began with the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and the Lord’s Prayer.  I do not recall complaints about either or anyone claiming offense.  I grew up in the Bible belt.  Prayer, Bible, Church all a way of life.  In the late 60s and early 70’s attending high school on Chicago’s north side there was little emphasis on God and Country.  Under God was added to the pledge when I was a toddler nowadays people use that among their reasons for not pledging allegiance to our country.  Others, I suppose, simply do not believe in the ideals represented by our flag or in some manner believe they do not apply to them or their identity group.  In either case, to them there is no American Exceptionalism.

Copyright © 2017 J. D. Pendry