J. William Bowser
Martinsburg, Pennsylvania - Grade School Student
I was born in 1957, so I thought the Sixties were normal. I was literally a child of the Sixties, in grade school from 1963 to 1969. Just to think about my first grade year: In June 1963, the Supreme Court declared organized school prayer unconstitutional. In July, I turned six years old. In August, Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington. In September, I started first grade. In October, we stopped saying the Lord's Prayer every morning. In November, President Kennedy was shot in Dallas - on the Friday before Thanksgiving. Two days later, Lee Harvey Oswald was murdered, live on national television.
All this - and the Beatles on Ed Sullivan - happened in less than nine months. How does a six-year-old take it all in? Much differently than teenagers and adults. Kennedy's death shattered their expectations of the world. But mine were only then being formed: I remember so clearly thinking to myself, "I guess presidents get shot every now and then."
As the Vietnam War played out, and the political turmoil of the Sixties, I was still taking it all in. We saw it all on television: fire, blood, riots, and napalm. Everything. So for those of us in grade school during Vietnam thought that's what the world was like. We couldn't help it: This was done to us without our knowledge or consent. Like Pavlov's dogs, we were imprinted by the Sixties. And my Inner Child lives there still.