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Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

Longing for springs of the past

Thursday, March 1, 2007

For some unknown reason today brought back memories of exactly 40 years ago. As I turned the page of the calendar this morning to March, it took me back to the spring of 1967. I can't pinpoint the reason for this travel back in time but I vividly remember that spring like few in my life.

Forty years ago today I was plodding along in college with few cares in life. Grades were acceptable and life was good by every definition. Soon it would be the Summer of Love, though that memorable time passed me by. A college campus in the '60s was an experience like none other. And 1967 was just about as good as it got.

The assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy had not yet occurred. The war in Vietnam was near the top of everyone's mind, especially draft-age college students. The Beatles still dominated the cultural scene. They spoke of love and such. There were no lyrics about violence. That would come much later as society changed.

Racial tensions were prevalent everywhere especially on the college campus. Sit-

ins were all the rage. Kent State and the Tet offensive were still far down the road. Marijuana had made its arrival known but crack had a much different meaning than it does today. In short, we as a nation were not entirely innocent but then again, we could not have predicted the changes that were just a few short months ahead.

In so many ways, that beautiful spring of 1967 was how I wish it were today. Granted, it's an empty wish. Life since then has turned harsh. Our society has turned harsh. Our culture has not improved by virtually any definition.

I recall a lengthy discussion that spring with a group of my peers. We were convinced that our generation would change this world. It wasn't a matter of being cocky or arrogant. We were just certain that our "enlightened" generation would change the world. We knew we would easily win victory in Vietnam. After all it had been a generation since our country had flexed its military muscle.

But then it changed. You can't pinpoint a specific date or a single reason for the change. President Johnson would soon tell the world he had had enough. A former Vice President from California was waiting in the wings. We didn't know it at the time but our world was changing and not necessarily for the best.

We can never return to that gorgeous spring. That doesn't signal an end to the days of promise and hope. But it makes you wonder just where we went wrong.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen