Describe the multiple traumas of 1968. How did the United States respond to them?

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There were several traumas that rocked the United States in 1968, but I would like to focus on three—the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination, the Robert Kennedy assassination, and the Tet Offensive. The Martin Luther King Jr. assassination shocked the United States. King was a man of peace who was...

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There were several traumas that rocked the United States in 1968, but I would like to focus on three—the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination, the Robert Kennedy assassination, and the Tet Offensive. The Martin Luther King Jr. assassination shocked the United States. King was a man of peace who was in Memphis to support a sanitation worker strike. There were race riots all over the country after his death. People from all walks of life paused to honor King and his legacy. The civil rights movement never had a leader with such charisma after his death. While the movement continued, it lost significant momentum.

The Robert Kennedy assassination was also heartbreaking. Kennedy was a near-certainty to obtain the Democratic nomination in 1968—one of the last things Kennedy did while alive was win the California primary. Many thought that Kennedy would unite the Democratic party after it was fractured by the Vietnam War. Kennedy, initially hawkish, promised to pull the country out of Vietnam. After his death, the Democratic party suffered. There were even riots at the party's nominating convention in Chicago later that year. All of this led to Richard Nixon being elected as a candidate who promised "peace with honor" and a restoration of order.

The final trauma I would like to mention is the Tet Offensive. While the North Vietnamese Army ultimately lost the Tet Offensive, it was a propaganda coup for the communists. Americans, already growing tired of the war, had heard that they were winning and the war would be over soon. The Tet Offensive demonstrated that the North Vietnamese Army and Vietcong were still quite powerful. The news broadcast grisly scenes into American living rooms night after night. It soon became too much to bear. More Americans started to agitate to get out of Vietnam. This also played a part in Johnson's decision not to run again in 1968.

While one can point to other bad events that happened in 1968, these are the three I selected. I selected them for their historical significance and the number of people they affected.

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