IT WAS A HARD WEEKEND! Labor Day 2019 was more than stressful. It was deeply disturbing. The big events were the monster hurricane Dorian; a mass shooting in Odessa, Texas; and a tour boat explosion in California. The death toll from Dorian is seven, so far. The death toll from the Odessa shooting is seven killed, 22 injured. The tour boat explosion killed 34. All of the events involved innocent victims.
As a country, we have been through tumultuous times before. Historians generally agree that the worst year for the U.S. since the Civil War was 1968. Here are just some of the things that happened that year ...
January 23. North Korea captures the USS Pueblo, a Navy intelligence ship. The Pueblo’s 83-man crew is held in a POW camp until the end of the year. January 30-31. The Tet offensive is launched by the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong. The surprise attacks incur heavy casualties. Americans watch the horror on TV. February 18. The highest death toll (543) and wounded (2,547) for a single week of the Vietnam War is announced. March 1-8. 15,000 Latino high school students in Los Angeles boycott classes, demanding better education. March 16. U.S. troops kill more than 500 Vietnamese civilians in the My Lai massacre. March 31. President Lyndon B. Johnson announces he will not run for president. April 3. More than 1,000 men return their draft cards to the Selective Service. April 4. Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis. April 6. Black Panthers engage in a 90-minute gun battle with Oakland, California, police. April 23. Hundreds of Columbia University students occupy five campus buildings and hold a dean hostage. One thousand New York City police storm the buildings and beat and arrest more than 700 students. April 29. The musical Hair opens on Broadway, featuring nudity, drugs, and draft resistance. May 6. Known as “Bloody Monday,” this is the day thousands of students worldwide, including 5,000 in Paris, led violent protests inspired by the Columbia students. May 27. Anti-war protesters enter the Selective Service office in Catonsville, Maryland, and burn 400 files in the parking lot. June 3. Pop-artist Andy Warhol is shot and wounded by a woman who is angry that Warhol lost a copy of the play she wrote. June 5. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. July 23-28. Race riots in Cleveland last five days. August 20. The Soviet Union invades Czechoslovakia. August 26-29. Thousands of students and anti-war activists protest at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Americans watch on TV as Chicago police and the Illinois National Guard viciously club and tear-gas protesters, bystanders, and reporters. September 7. Feminists march on the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. October 2. Hundreds of student protesters are killed or injured by police and military troops in Mexico City. October 16. At the Olympics in Mexico City, two U.S. sprinters win medals. At the awards ceremony during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Tommie Smith (gold) and John Carlos (bronze) raise black-gloved fists, symbols of the Black Power movement. November 20. An explosion in West Virginia kills 78 coal miners.
There is more. The first statewide teacher strike was conducted in Florida. An earthquake in Iran killed 12,000 people. And the HIV virus first entered the U.S.
On the bright side, Intel was founded, the computer mouse was invented, and Apollo 8 circled the moon 10 times on Christmas Eve, 1968. The top song of the year was “Hey, Jude,” by the Beatles that reminded us to “take a sad song and make it better.”