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Donaldsonville Chief - Donaldsonville- LA
  • The world we live in today started taking form 50 years ago

  • The 20th century had changed and changed again by the time the world rang in the new year of 1962. After two world wars and the Great Depression in between, the Cold War between the U.S. and Soviet Union was icy. From Africa to Asia, former colonial territories were declaring independence.

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  • The 20th century had changed and changed again by the time the world rang in the new year of 1962. After two world wars and the Great Depression in between, the Cold War between the U.S. and Soviet Union was icy. From Africa to Asia, former colonial territories were declaring independence.
    The American civil rights movement was gathering force behind a charismatic young leader, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The nation’s first Roman Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, was inspiring the world.
    Amid all those events, you could say the world in which we’re now living was born in 1962 as much as any year before or since – from the origin of satellite communications and the Internet to the emergence of church-state issues that are controversial to this day.
    Here are 1962’s landmark events, and how they’re shaping our lives.
    Operation Chopper
    Vietnam: Jan. 12
    Most histories mark American military involvement in South Vietnam from Congress’s 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which opened the door to a massive escalation. But you could argue that for the U.S., the Vietnam War really started with “Operation Chopper.”
    While President John F. Kennedy had already sent thousands of military advisers to the country, the U.S. took no combat role until Army helicopter pilots flew 1,000 South Vietnamese soldiers to attack a Communist Vietcong stronghold near Saigon in 1962.
    By the time the war ended in 1973, 2.7 million service members had taken a tour of duty in Vietnam, and almost 58,000 had died.
    John Glenn’s flight: Feb. 20
    NASA astronaut John Glenn wasn’t the first man to orbit the earth. Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin did that, in 1961. But Glenn’s three orbits in his Friendship 7 Mercury capsule captured world attention, and turned the “space race” in America’s favor. Seven years later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed Apollo 11 on the moon.
    School prayer banned: June 25
    In its Engel v. Vitale ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court banned public school prayers written by local governments and officially recited at the schools. While the decision didn’t forbid voluntary forms of prayer, as critics claimed, conservative Christians continue to assail the ruling as an attack on religion.
    Telstar, Launched July 10, first broadcast July 23
    Developed by AT&T and Bell Labs and put in orbit by a NASA rocket, Telstar was the world’s first communications satellite, relaying the first trans-Atlantic images between the U.S. and Britain and France. More than 3,000 satellites are now in Earth orbit, handling everything from cellphone calls and weather tracking to radio and TV shows.
    Page 2 of 2 - The “Galactic Network”: August
    The origin of the Internet is usually pegged to the Defense Department’s creation of its DARPA computer network in the late 1960s – partly as a means for critical communications to survive nuclear attack. That prototype system was inspired by a series of memos written in the summer of 1962 by MIT computer scientist J.C.R. Licklider. In the 1990s Licklider’s “galactic network” took form as the World Wide Web.
    “Silent Spring”: September
    First published as a New Yorker magazine series, former marine biologist Rachel Carson’s landmark book analyzed how DDT and other pesticides harmed animals and crops, threatening the entire food chain. The Sierra Club and other groups credit the book as an inspiration for today’s environmental movement.
    Second Vatican Council: Oct. 11, 1962-Dec. 8, 1965
    The most significant Roman Catholic meeting since the 16th century Council of Trent, Pope John XXIII called “Vatican II” to address the church’s relations with the 20th century world and non-Christian faiths.
    The three-year council allowed the Mass and Communion to be celebrated in vernacular languages, not just traditional Latin. Priests could face parishioners, not the altar, and lay Catholics began to take prominent worship roles.
    The Cuban missile crisis: Oct. 18-29
    The showdown with the Soviet Union began when a U-2 spy plane photographed nuclear missile sites on Cuba. On Oct. 22 President Kennedy went on TV to announce the discovery, and to set a naval blockade to keep further Soviet military supplies from delivery.
    After a tense week, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev ordered the sites dismantled, and the U.S. pledged to never invade Cuba. The crisis led to the opening of a “hot line” between Washington and Moscow, and the first limited nuclear test-ban treaty – a first step toward today’s international arms inspection and control.
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