20 Turning Points in Baby Boomer History

Where were you on May 13, 1967—50 years ago today?
We surveyed Road Scholars and asked them to identify the most significant events or changes in their lifetimes, and each of the 20 red-letter dates on this list represents either a specific event or a symbolic date representing a significant cultural, economic or technological change.  
What did we miss?  Does this summary of 70 years of history sound like progress to you?  Give us your reaction in the comment section below!
March 11, 1947.  The first episode of “Small Fry Club” airs on the DuMont Television Network and widespread commercial television begins.
June 5, 1947.  Secretary of State George C. Marshall introduces the Marshall Plan at the annual meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association in Cambridge, Mass., kicking off an era of globalization.  (Winston Churchill called this program of American aid to a devastated Europe “the most unsordid act in human history.”)
October 18, 1954.  The sale of the first commercial transistor radio, the Regency TR-1, was announced.  The radio cost $49.95 ($443 in 2016 dollars) and started the world’s romance with portable electronic devices.
October 4, 1957.  The Soviet Union launches the satellite Sputnik, setting off the space race.
November 22, 1963.  President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
July 2, 1964.  President Lyndon Baines Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964, barring unequal application of voter registration requirements and prohibiting discrimination by employees on the basis of color, race, sex, national origin or religion.
August 7, 1964.  Congress passes the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, giving President Johnson wide latitude to retaliate against North Vietnam and setting the stage for a dramatic escalation of the war in Vietnam.
May 13, 1967.  Scott McKenzie’s song “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” (written by Papa John Phillips) is released.   The song became the anthem for the Summer of Love, symbolic of cultural changes in the 1960s.
April 4, 1968.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tenn.
July 21, 1969.  Neil Armstrong walks on the moon as the culmination of the Apollo 11 mission.
April 22, 1970.  The first Earth Day is celebrated, and environmentalism becomes a mass movement.
July 10, 1971.  Gloria Steinem, Congresswomen Shirley Chisholm, and Bella Abzug and others join forces to launch the National Women’s Political Caucus, a milestone in the women’s movement.
April 11, 1976.  The Apple 1 goes on sale, and the personal computer era begins in earnest.
October 24, 1978.  The Airline Deregulation Act is signed into law by President Jimmy Carter, ushering in an era of inexpensive air fares, making international travel accessible to millions of Americans.
March 13, 1984.  The first commercial hand-held cellphone, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, was sold for $3,995 and the cellphone era began.
December 26, 1991.  The Soviet Union dissolves, two years after the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989.
December 15, 1994.  Netscape, the first commercial web browser, is released, and the digital information age is launched.
September 11, 2001.  Terrorists attack the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Virginia.
November 4, 2008.  Americans elect their first African-American president, Barack Obama.
November 8, 2016.  Donald J. Trump is elected president of the United States.

  • Kent State shootings May 4, 1970.

  • The Cuban Missile Crisis is one of my earliest memories. My father was a supply sergeant at Blytheville Air Force Base, Blytheville, Arkansas. I remember this time because Daddy had to stay at the base since they were on alert. I remember standing in my parent's bedroom watching my mother put bottles of water in their closet. She used empty bleach bottles to store the water. I must have asked why she was doing that. I vaguely remember her saying something about the crisis and Daddy being at the base. In October, 1962 I was 2 months shy of being 4 years old.

    Following information is from this article:



    "The 97th BMW earned an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (AFOUA) for activities during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. On 22 October SAC responded by establishing Defense Condition Three (DEFCON III), and ordered the 97th to place two B-52s on airborne alert. Tension grew and the next day SAC declared DEFCON II, a heightened state of alarm. While at DEFCON II the 97th maintained two B-52s on airborne alert. One of the 97th's bombers carried AGM-28 Hound Dog and ADM-20 Quail missiles, the other carried nuclear and conventional ordnance. No missions were aborted or canceled during the crisis. The 97th and other units deployed KC-135 tankers to Zaragoza Air Base, Spain to refuel the alert force. Reconnaissance photographs taken on 1 November 1962 indicated that the Soviets had begun dismantling the SS-4 IRBM missile sites in Cuba. The wing returned to DEFCON III on the 15th and subsequently resumed normal activity on 20 November."

    **"Known for most of its operational life as Blytheville Army Airfield (1942–1946) or Blytheville Air Force Base (1953–1988), the facility was renamed Eaker Air Force Base on 26 May 1988, in honor of General Ira Eaker, an air pioneer and second commander of Eighth Air Force during World War II."

  • June 5-10, 1967 Six Day War in Israel; June 5, 1968 Assassination of Bobby Kennedy

  • The original list is good, but has some tech introductions that I doubt most Boomers would have noticed at the time (though they definitely made impact on our lives). I agree with adding the Kent State shootings, the Cuban Missile Crisis, assassination of Bobby Kennedy, the Six Day War that others have mentioned. I am writing this on the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana's death 31 August 1997, which certainly affected a lot of Boomers. Some might add the death of Malcolm X. What about The Beatles on Ed Sullivan? The Vietnam War protests (more broadly than Kent State) and the Chicago Democratic National Convention in 1968 that all but tore the country apart? Watergate and President Nixon's resignation?

  • The Challenger explosion, John Lennon's death, Woodstock

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