I graduated High School in 1975 so this year is/was the 40th anniversary. Some recent Facebook conversations has reminded me that quite a bit of history occurred from the time I was born until the time I graduated, so I thought I'd write up some personal thoughts on those days.
I am born - history begins!
Sputnik is launched. The space race begins. This is significant to me in that my high school was built as a direct response. As I understand the story, there was a big push on to get more and more kids into what we now call STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). My High School was meant to be cutting edge in this regard, especially I think with regard to chemistry labs. All of my math and science teachers were top notch. I think we were a little odd in that we were the Vanguards (named after the rocket) but our mascot was a gryphon/griffin. I'm not sure how/where the gryphon fit in to the STEM idea, unless it was a nod to the humanities to keep them happy. I don't actually remember ever touching on this topic in any class throughout my school days.
The first US combat casualty occurs in Vietnam.
Castro takes over in Cuba. My mother used to say she could not understand how Castro was initially welcomed by the US and she and her friends thought he was going to wonderful and then he became our enemy. I didn't have an answer for her at the time, but now I know it was because FREEDOM and CAPITALISM. This is definitely not something covered in any class.
The day the music died! Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson are
killed when their chartered Beechcraft Bonanza plane crashes in Iowa a
few minutes after takeoff. Not really significant to me at the time, but their music is part of what I grew up with, their memories were significant to many musicians of my day and of course, Don McLean hates his hit song about the subject.
Bay of Pigs invasion. Not something I noticed, but its impact on the American zeitgeist was significant and played a big role in our subsequent misadventures in VietNam. Again, not covered in school.
John Glenn is the first American to orbit the Earth. I have a vague memory of my father pulling me in to a room to watch a rocket launch, telling me it was an historic occasion. It probably wasn't this one, but I'd like to believe it was.
The Cuban Missile Crisis. I was one month into Kindergarten. Little did I know that my school career (and life) could have been over before it had even really begun. Luckily, the X-Men were there to save the day!
JFK assassinated. I don't remember the actual event. I have another vague memory of coming home from school one day and my mother watching the funeral procession on TV.
Speaking of TV - Doctor Who premieres on the BBC. This is an event that passes unnoticed by me until sometime in the late 70s or early 80s when reruns are being shown on public TV in the US and I become addicted.
Gulf of Tonkin incident(s). US Navy ships may or may not have been involved with one or maybe 2 battles with North Vietnamese torpedo boats. (My memory is hazy, but I seem to recall that at some point there were claims that the Vietnamese boats were leaving mines in the water, but there's no mention of that in the Wikipedia article.) In any event, this gave President Johnson cover to get Congress to approve a resolution to allow escalation of the war.
Summer of Love kicks off. My personal opinion is that if you were not old enough to be getting high and getting laid during the Summer of Love, then you are not a baby boomer. If you got high and got laid, I'd say you are a boomer (which means that a few of my fellow 1975 graduates could be boomers!). If you did neither but your friends or classmates were doing both, you're a boomer. If your parents got together during WWII and you were born in 1964, you were more than likely an accident (sorry). You are definitely not a boomer.