If you are among the senior citizen veteran population, then you are between the ages of 65 and 85 years old. Your generation lived through America in the 1960s, when it was the best of times and the worst of times. You will now take a trip down memory lane and let your recollections tell a story. Grandpa may have a changed in looks and thinking, but the heart knows about his youth.
The ’60s began with an American President, the youngest ever, with hope on every horizon. He came from a wealthy family, but he related to the common person. History now tells of his life in a host of stories — many that should be laid to rest. He confronted an enemy and brought us to the brink of World War III over missiles in the Caribbean. His life was cut short by an assassin’s bullet. Etched in our minds is “the day JFK died.”
John F. Kennedy believed America was helping a little country in Asia and began sending “advisors.” Within a 10-year period, it turned out to be a significant war; one which America did not leave victorious. Worse yet, the veterans came home to scorn and ridicule, while our institutions were collapsing — assassinations of key leaders, riots on our college campuses, protests in our streets, people running off to Canada, burning our flag and burning the inner cities over civil rights issues. But, America survived and came out stronger and more noble to our protectors of freedom – our veterans.
In the Albany area, we reaped the benefits of much construction and growth. Closer to home, a construction job called the South Mall may have upset some long grown neighborhoods. However, it was the largest construction job in the country at the time. The SUNY at Albany campus was built, and the long-term vision has enhanced all our communities. Fast, fancy cars roamed up Central Avenue and Washington Avenue, as the woods were converted to valuable commercial property.
In the USA, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris provided New York national sports front-page hype. Jim Brown was great, and is today still the greatest running back in football. Joe Namath gave us a “guarantee” and brought football to another level. Boxing saw “the Greatest” when Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) beat Sonny Liston. The names of Nicklaus and Palmer made the world take hold of golf. The world watched on black and white TV when Neil Armstrong jumped onto the moon. America was proud in the midst of the controversies of the ’60s.
To all the Vietnam veterans who have your own heartfelt version of the ’60s, you’ll never be forsaken again by this nation. You are our “unforesaken generation.” While you make up the largest portion of our senior citizen veterans, take some time to use this article to sit down with a grandchild and tell them about your life in the ’60s. Maybe your own children could use a refresher for that decade. God bless you and America.
“Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” — John Wooden, the great basketball coach of the UCLA Bruins in the 1960s. He won 38 consecutive NCAA tournament games between the 1963-64 and the 1973-74 seasons.