Forty Years Ago -- 1967
Forty years ago, I was a member (as in Selective Service) of the Third U.S. Army Data Processing Company at Ft. McPherson in Atlanta, Ga. I was issued a pencil and assigned to a desk where I analyzed documents and reduced information to codes for computer processing. In 1967, as it is today, the world was in a bit of turmoil. Jan. 15 -- The Green Bay Packers won the first Super Bowl, defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10. Feb. 28 -- Seven men in Meridian, Miss., were convicted of the 1964 slaying of three civil rights workers. March 7 -- Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa began an 8-year prison term for fraud and jury tampering. April 14 -- U.S. planes bombed North Vietnam for the first time in the Vietnam War. April 28 -- Mohammad Ali, heavyweight boxing champion, refused to be inducted into the Army. May 1 -- Elvis Presley, 32, and Priscilla Beaulieu, 20, were married at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. They met when Elvis was stationed in West Germany during his military service. She was only 14 at the time. June 1 -- The Beatles released their classic album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." June 5 -- The Six Day War broke out in the Middle East. Israel raided Egyptian military targets. Syria, Jordan and Iraq entered the conflict. Jordan lost the West Bank (2,270 sq. miles). Israel annexed Arab East Jerusalem. June 8 -- Israel mistakenly attacked the USS Liberty (in the Mediterranean), killing 34 U.S. servicemen. June 11 -- The Six Day War ended when the U.N. brokered a cease fire agreement. Israel had taken Gaza and Sinai from Egypt, Old Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria. June 17 -- China exploded its first hydrogen bomb, becoming the fourth country with nuclear capabilities. July 12 -- Four days of race riots erupted in Newark resulting in 27 dead, 1,500 injured and over 1,000 arrests. July 17 -- Race riots took place in Cairo, Ill. July 19 -- Race riots took place in Durham, NC. July 20 -- Race riots took place in Memphis, Tenn. July 23 -- One week of race riots in Detroit left 40 dead, 2,000 injured and 5,000 homeless. July 24 -- Race riots took place in Cambridge, Md. July 30 -- General Westmoreland declared we were winning in Vietnam but needed more troops. Aug. 3 -- President Johnson announced plans to send 40,000 more troops to Vietnam. Sept. 22 -- After 17 months of my 2-year military obligation, I was promoted to Specialist E5. Apparently, the Army considered my MOS (military occupation specialty) to be vital and assumed I was worthy of re-enlistment. Oct. 9 -- Che Guevara, Latin America guerrilla leader, was captured and executed in Bolivia. Oct. 26 -- U.S. Navy pilot John McCain (U.S. Senator from Arizona) was shot down over North Vietnam. He would spend 5.5 years in prison, including two years in solitary confinement, where he was subjected to torture. Nov. 22 -- The U.N. Security Council called for Israel to withdraw from territories it captured during the Six Day War and called on adversaries to recognize Israel's right to exist. The world is still waiting for compliance. Nov. 29 -- Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara resigned to become president of the World Bank. Nov. 30 -- Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota announced his intention to run for president in 1968. Dec. 3 -- In Cape Town, South Africa, Dr. Christian Barnard performed the first human heart transplant. Dec. 20 -- With the arrival of more troops, there were now some 474,300 servicemen stationed in Vietnam. Dec. 31 -- At midnight, my military obligation would be down to 100 days. It was a night for heavy celebration. For the emerging hippie generation, 1967 was a psychedelic trip into the mystic. The number one song that year was "White Rabbit" by the Jefferson Airplane. "One pill makes you larger... And one pill makes you small... And the ones that mother gives you don't do anything at all... Go ask Alice, when she's 10-feet tall." For me, it was a tedious year of pushing pencils and saluting brass. I do not nostalgically yearn to repeat it.
* * *Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.