New Year’s Eve is the time when most people look back and reflect upon the events of the past year – various forms of media present ‘the year in pictures’, ‘the year in video’, ‘the year in music and film’, etc. Individuals think of lost friends and family members, births and celebrations, achievements and disappointments.
Overall, there is a kind of nostalgia for the twelve months just passed. One could sense those moments of thought fade as the hours become minutes before the big moment. As the final seconds tick down, the memories of the past disappear and anticipation grows. At the stroke of midnight there are cheers and hugs, kisses and smiles, balloons bursting and noisemakers sounding. For some folks it’s a celebration of a new year with new possibilities and hopes. For some it’s a celebration for the end of a good year that has passed or a bad year now gone. For others, it’s a celebration of having made it one more year without having succumbed to that final farewell.
In keeping with the tradition of nostalgia, it seems appropriate to reflect upon what has passed. But rather than looking at the memories of 2013, we’re going to leap back not one year, but fifty – a half century. What kind of things occurred back then that helped shape who and what we are today – and even, perhaps, what we will continue to become next year and the years to come.
The year is 1963. It is the turning point of the decade and, in many ways, a turning point historically for the U.S. – both politically and as a society. It was a year that began with optimism and many hopes. Overall that trend seemed to continue throughout, until a dark pall set upon the nation and the world on one fateful November day. Some people say that this was the year the United Sates lost its innocence – that from ’63 and onwards nothing in society or politics would ever again be seen through the eyes of a credulous public. That may have changed on a clear September morning in 2001 – and perhaps that’s something we should all ponder today.
A half century – fifty years. We can look back and reflect about how that year helped shape the world we live in today. What will the people fifty years hence ponder about the legacy formed by our actions in 2013?