My favorite decade
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          I had never thought about it until my good friend asked me, “So, which was your favorite decade, you know the years that made you feel better than all the others, the years that were compelling, stimulating and exciting?”
          I needed some clarification to his question before I answered. “Do you mean my best years personally or the decade I liked the most because of what went on in the world?”
          “No, no, not personally, I want to know what decade you think was a fun, meaningful, time in which to live.”
          “Okay, I gotcha.”
          “Let’s see, I was a little kid in the 1940’s. I remember the excitement in my house when news about the Second World War came over the radio. Everyone sat by their radios at night, listening to the latest news from Europe and the Pacific. The world celebrated peace in 1945. Our boys came marching home. The 40s were an exciting time.”
          Then I remembered growing up in the 1950’s. “It was a corny time. Everything was like in ‘Leave it to Beaver’ and the ‘Donna Reed Show.’ We celebrated peace. The golden age of television came into our lives. Sputnik beeped a challenge to America. The courts cancelled ‘Separate but equal.’ Rock and Roll comes to stay. Suburbia grew. Fears of Communism increased. An ‘Iron Curtain’ descended. The 1950s were the easiest times in which to live.”
          “Then came the 1960s. A charismatic John F. Kennedy became our President and three years later America was stunned to mournful silence with his assassination. The cold war brought its terror. Russian missiles were stationed in Cuba, 90 miles from our shores. ‘I have a dream’ speech was made by Martin Luther King. In 1968 the civil rights leader is shot dead in Memphis. In sports we followed Wilma Rudolph, Joe Namath, Vince Lombardi, the Celtics, Lew Alcindor and Muhammad Ali.
          “Americans were now deeply involved in the Vietnam War, it becomes our battle. ‘Flower Power’ happens. Robert Kennedy runs for president and then is shot and killed in Los Angeles, staggering the country and the world. George Wallace opposes civil rights. Richard Nixon is our president. Cesar Chavez makes a difference. In July of 1969 the world was enthralled as Neil Armstrong walks on the moon.
          My friend, interrupted my contemplations. “Don’t you have any thoughts of the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s?”
          “Oh, sure I do. The 1970’s were filled with remarkable events. President Nixon got caught over Watergate and other actions. Riots broke out in Los Angeles. Iran grabs 53 American hostages. Camp David offered hope to the Middle East. Disco challenged Rock. Women gained power.”
          “The decades of the 80s and 90s brought Ronald Reagan from the screen and television to the White House. Grunge evolved. Reality television is born. The age of computers began to change our lives. Clinton becomes president and is caught lying, etc. There are wars in the Middle East. Hussein invades Kuwait. Desert Storm evolves. Riots in Los Angeles. The U.S. Embassy in Beruit is blown up. George H.W. Bush becomes president.”
          “In 1993 an explosion rocks the World Trade Center. A giant earthquake shakes Los Angeles.”
          “Okay, you’ve brought us right up to the 2000s. Now, which decade that you’ve lived through was the most exciting?”
          I stuttered a bit, then I said, “It’s a difficult thing to answer. Look, there were things that happened before I was born that must have been ultra-exciting. The year 1927 had some remarkable events. Like Philo Farnsworth experimenting with an actual television picture. In the same year Babe Ruth hit his record 60 home runs. Charles Lindbergh did his solo, non-stop transatlantic flight, New York to Paris in the “Spirit of St. Louis. 1927 was probably the most exciting year to be an American, but if you want my personal favorite decade it has to be the 1960s.”
          “America was split in two over the war in Vietnam. We had a handsome, energetic president in John F. Kennedy, then we lost him in one shocking moment in Dallas. The Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco had become the countercultural mecca for the beat generation the previous decade. All over the nation there were long-haired, oddly outfitted, acid-tripping peace-and-love spouting hippies – and their numbers appeared to just keep growing. Flower power happened. The youth in America wanted peace and love, not war, not killing. The country had never been through anything resembling the hippies’ ideals of love, peace and the rejection of materialism. It seemed that they could survive the real world for only a brief moment – in the 1960s.”
          “Perhaps the decade of the 1960s was epitomized by the events of July 20, 1969 when Neil A. Armstrong left his footprints on our moon. Man had actually flown to another land in the universe. I remember sitting quietly, affixed to the television screen as an American man prepared to walk on the moon. It’s hard to beat the 1960s as an exciting, stimulating and fascinating time. At least it was for me.”