Recent protests/riots have kindled memories of 1968, the year those of us in Enterprise High School’s senior class graduated and headed off half hither, half yon.
Our May 27 graduation fell between assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. (April 4 in Memphis) and Robert F. Kennedy (June 6 in Los Angeles), and three months before riots during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago (Aug. 26-29).
The ’68 Republican Convention was in Miami Beach, Aug. 5-8.
It’s certain, with both major U.S. political parties scheduled for conventions soon, this summer’s gonna be scary.
The second half of our senior year featured the Jan. 30, 1968, start of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, escalating the war the U.S. didn’t win, and adding more riots.
Some things haven’t changed much.
Already this year, feeding off legitimate protests reacting to the death of a man in police custody when his last breath apparently came with a Minneapolis policeman’s knee on his neck, vandals have looted and burned businesses, terrorizing residents in major American cities.
The country’s weeks of protests continue, peaceful gatherings now spreading to smaller communities, including Enterprise.
Your scribe learned a valuable lesson in Spring ’68 when some 17 friends, as EHS principal James R. Tucker noted, “from prominent families and Fort Rucker,” went on a mischievous binge one night.
One in the group ratted out the rest before the tardy bell rang the next morning and during first period, Mr. Tucker called the perps to the office.
When those culprits in Mrs. Ann Becker’s democracy class left the room, your scribe was seated alone in the two rows nearest the windows.
Mr. Tucker called them again around break time to work out the sentencing phase of the process and at lunch, he stopped your scribe, by then full of fried chicken and slabs of government cheese, in the long hall.
“Why didn’t you come to the office either time I called for the guilty students this morning?”
“Wasn’t involved; Daddy won’t let his only child out of the house on weeknights except for band/play practice.”
“I knew you had better sense than to be involved in such mess!”
Mostly, if folks are where they’re supposed to be, doing what they’re supposed to do, a lot of trouble can be avoided.
A senseless death in Minneapolis, combined with COVID-19 and an expected busier-than-usual hurricane season, have ramifications rocking the very essence of the U.S., forever altering how we’ll live our lives.
Restaurants and other businesses are still shuttered and at least one more wave of coronavirus is expected to hit the U.S., where it appears many of this country’s leaders unwisely had their wisdom teeth pulled.
Coincidence, an oft-visited topic in this column, extends beyond protests.
Members of the Greatest Generation, the Silent Generation and we baby boomers, whose earlier lives were marked by fear of the polio virus, are now scared spitless of this coronavirus.
We’re at the point now where Americans don’t need to touch each other with 10-foot, make that 6-foot poles.
There was another ’68 protest that should bring a smile to the faces of guys who tried our best to get in on it.
Nope, it didn’t concern Vietnam, politics, rock ’n roll or drugs.
It was that bra-burning campaign.