I have often written that 1969 was my favorite year … and explained why.
As a start, it was epic from a news viewpoint.
Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in July 1969. I watched it. I had a baby that year and it might not have made the networks, but it was big news at my house.
So, as a new mother, I got to see Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. A real live guy walking — leaping — on the moon! We viewed it on CBS. It was obvious Walter Cronkite wanted to be up there with Neil and the rest of Apollo 11. He could barely control his excitement. He was nearly in tears. Me too.
The great Arthur C. Clarke was his guest for that historic news event. Neil Armstrong died a couple of years ago, an honorable man and a true American hero.
How I envied him his trip to the moon. I always tell Garry that if the Mother Ship comes and offers me a trip to the stars, I’m outta here. Maybe there would be room for him, too and we could travel together to the stars. Our final vacation. I hope the seats have better leg room than what we usually get.
Woodstock was a 1969 event too. Rumors were flying about this rock concert which would totally blow up the music world. I had friends who had tickets and were up, up and away. I was busy with a baby and wished them well.
I was young, healthy. I was sure we would change the world. End wars. Make the world better — for everyone. I was young enough to believe that our beliefs were enough make the changes and those changes would last forever. All the changes would be permanent.
It never crossed my mind that 50 years later, we’d be fighting the same battles again. I probably wouldn’t have been nearly as happy had a realized that nothing is permanent. No legislation is forever.
I figured we just needed to love each and it would fix everything. I still think if we had all learned to love each other, it would have fixed everything. For some strange reason, I thought the people I knew and cared for were all the people.
I never realized there were so many other people who hated everyone. People who loved no one, not even themselves. They would never be happy. Or allow anyone else to be happy either.
I had a baby boy and I sang “Everything’s Fine Right Now.” The song made a great wonderful lullaby and also, it made my baby boy laugh.
It was the year of the Miracle Mets. I watched as they took New York all the way to the top. New York went crazy for the Mets. A World Series win. 1969. What a year!
I wore patchwork bell-bottom jeans and rose-tinted spectacles. I had long fringes on my sleeves and a baby on my hip.
Music was wonderful. How young we were! We could do anything. The world belonged to us. I just knew it.
Decades passed; youth was a long time ago. The drugs we take control our blood pressure, not our state of consciousness. Today’s drugs aren’t much fun, but along with replacement heart valves and implanted breasts to replace the pair that tried to kill me, they keep me alive.
1969 was my year. But in its own weird way, all the years have come around again and today’s young people are fighting the same old battles — again. Fighting to get the assault weapons out of the hands of people who kill kids in schools and trying to make the world right. I want them to do a better job than we did.
Often, these days, I wonder what we accomplished. I’m sure we accomplished something. We probably brought the close of the Vietnam war, but so late and so many were dead by them. Maybe this group of kids who seem so determined and seem to get that voting is going to be how they will make the system work — maybe THEY will make things change and somehow keep the change alive.
Nothing lasts forever. Freedom is not free.
Regardless of how hard we work and how much we change the world, like a rubber band, “the world” will go back to where it was. The generation that follows change will forget how they got their freedom, so the next one will have to fight again. Freedom is the thing we fight for. Not once, but over and over and over again.
Freedom doesn’t come for free.