Thoughts on a New Year
On Christmas Eve 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 took this iconic photo that became known as "Earthrise",
arguably one of the most profoundly influential images in human history.
By Ray Cunneff
December 31, 2018
I hadn't planned on writing anything today. In fact, I've been avoiding the computer for over a week.
Our plans for New Year's Eve were simple, an early dinner at one of our favorite restaurants and home before the party-hearty revelers were on the road.
We'd been binge-watching some of our favorite movies over the last few days, so while my wife wanted to catch up on some of the TV shows she likes, shows in which I'm less interested, I went looking for documentaries On Demand and came upon a four-part CNN series "1968".
Days of rioting erupted in cities across the United States, including Chicago, seen here.
Lee Balterman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
It seemed somehow appropriate as we approach a new year, one that may prove pivotal in so many respects, to be reminded of perhaps the most eventful, tumultuous and in many ways frightening year in my life and in the life of our country.
Anti-war protesters confront federal troops during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
Raymond Depardon/Magnum Photos
I was serving on active duty in the U.S. Army in 1968, having been drafted a year before, and it seemed the country was being torn apart by the war in Vietnam, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, racial polarization, political upheaval, campus demonstrations, cities burning in protests and generational challenges to authority that seemed to tear at the very fabric of America.
Civil rights leaders point in the direction of the gunshot after Martin Luther King Jr.
was struck by an assassin’s bullet on the balcony of Memphis’ Lorraine Motel.
Joseph Louw/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
Sen. Robert Kennedy, brother of former President John F. Kennedy, shakes hands with
supporters during a presidential campaign appearance in Philadelphia.
Warren M. Winterbottom/AP
For those of us old enough to remember 1968, the series of body-blows that challenged us as individuals and as a nation, the sense of foreboding and disorientation, a general sense of despair that rocked so many of our assumptions, it may seem tempting to approach the unknown territory we now face, the "unprecedented" (the word of the year) dangers facing us in 2019 with a sense of dread.
But while it's important as we begin a new year to remember such a perilous time as we faced in 1968, it's no less important to remember that we survived it. History will judge whether we learned from it or have become a more just society because of it.
A rally in front of the Washington Monument for the Poor People’s Campaign, a cause
started by Martin Luther King Jr. Paul Slade/Paris Match/Getty Images
Wishing us all a safe, secure, and possibly transformative, 2019.