The Biggest Events in the Last 60 Years: Sputnik, JFK Assassination, Vietnam, The Berlin Wall, Impeachment of President Clinton and 9/11

 
 
 
 
The most important events of the past six decades are disparate ones. They include an assassination, an evacuation, a launch, the tearing down of a wall, a blue dress, and a falling tower. What they all have in common, however, was their ability to reshape American public discourse both when they occurred and in the subsequent decades. While any number of events over the past sixty years has resonated with the public, I believe that the events outlined below are special in that they mark watershed moments in American history when something important changed in the way that Americans viewed the world. This paper will outline these epochal events and conclude with some speculation concerning what the next major epochal event could be.

The most significant political, social, and cultural event of the 1950s was the Soviet Union's successful launch of Sputnik. On October 4, 1957, the communist nation became the first to successfully launch a satellite into orbit. Americans awoke that morning to a new star in their skies, shining menacingly. The launch touched off what is now known as the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union and led directly to the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 ("Sputnik"). Sputnik showed the entire world that the Soviet Union was technologically far ahead of United States. Then-Senator Lyndon Johnson summed up what much of the world and all of America believed when

     
 
 
 
    

 

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