Where Do We Go from Here

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  • Topic: Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, President of the United States
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Where Do We Go From Here?
Debbie Ebersole
Brian D. Blodgett, Ph., D

Where Do We Go From Here?
History repeats itself; a phrase I have heard many times over the course of my life. I have also been told “if you want to look into the future, look to the past.” If there is truth to either phrase, perhaps we are the brink of change; a time of prosperity much like after WWII. Starting with the 1950’s and going forward let us look back on events that have helped define where we do we go from here. Little White Houses – The 1950’s

The end of WWII signified many changes in the United States. For almost twenty years leading up to the 1950’s economic stagnation plagued the United States, thanks to the Depression and WWII. The war had come to an end, veterans returned home to their loved ones, and it was time for Americans to begin enjoying life. Veterans with assistance from the GI Bill purchased homes in the suburbs. There was a car in the driveway and a television in the living room. In the years following the war the United States and the Soviet Union emerged as “superpowers,” and mortal enemies (Davidson, 2005). The spread of communism and the “cold war” had an impact on the American domestic life. Bomb shelters were built in backyards. Each country had the capability to annihilate one another and the rest of the world (“Cold War”. 1996 – 2011).

It was during this time the struggle against racism and segregation penetrated the American way of life. In 1954 the landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education the Supreme Court ruled that “separate educational facilities” for black children were “inherently unequal” (“The 1950’S, 1996 – 2011). In December of 1955, after years of sitting at the back of the bus, Ms. Rosa Parks took a seat in the front. All was fine until a white male entered the bus. Ms. Parks was told to give up her seat on an already crowded bus. Not only was Ms. Parks African American, she was a woman. She defied the law. Her action prompted the organization of the Montgomery Improvement Association, led by Martin Luther King, Jr. This was an act of civil disobedience that led to the November 23rd, 1956, Supreme Court ruling, bus segregation was illegal. Ms. Parks is known as the “mother of the civil rights movement” (“Rosa Parks”, 1996 – 2011). These events and others that followed contributed to redefining Americans and the right to equality. The Age of Youth – The 1960’s

Baby boomers born after the war’s end became teenagers and the youth of America. Movement away from the conservative 1950’s was well on its way. Young people wanted change; it was time to question authority. As the Vietnam War continued to intensify, college campuses became centers of debate and scenes of protest (Goodwin & Bradley, 1999). The impact of the Vietnam War struck the baby boom generation. They were coming of age and would be drafted into the armed services (Davidson, 2005). By 1966 more than 400,000 troops were deployed to Vietnam (“Vietnam 1945 to 1975 Timeline”, n.d.). It was a time whether you were for or against the war that Americans had to take a stand on Vietnam. The cost of the war continued to rise to more than $50 billion a year as did inflation. Programs to assist those in need (Medicare, housing and education) raised the domestic budget. Recession and inflation brought an end to the affluence that Americans enjoyed. The Vietnam War had destroyed the promise of prosperity.

Who Can We Trust? – The 1970’s
The war in Vietnam continued on. Inflation and unemployment continued to escalate. Women, African Americans, Native Americans, gays and lesbians sought equality and most Americans joined in the protest against the war (“The 1970’S”, 1996 – 2011). President Richard M. Nixon was in office, elected for a second term. It was during this term the country realized how much power the President of the United States had and what he could do with it....
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