America At Its Best
Rocker Bryan Adams said it the best in his anthem "Summer of '69"—it was the best year of our lives. It's hard to fathom that four decades have passed since.
After a tumultuous and violent 1968, a year filled with assassinations, riots, wars and general social unrest, the country needed a respite.
Enter 1969, perhaps the greatest summer in American history. After the bloodletting of the previous year, it was time for some unifying events and feel-good moments.
As an eight-year-old who had just been shocked into submission through endless negative, and violent images throughout 1968, 1969 came in, rescued my psyche and allowed me to resume my childhood.
The good times had returned. It was the first year I got to hang out with the older kids on the block, racing bikes, playing wiffle-ball, swimming and listening to FM radio for the first time.
Nothing seemed beyond our grasp that summer—nothing. We were young and we were invincible, as Pat Benatar would go on to say.
We went to the moon, a feat once thought impossible. I sat with my brother and sister in front of our black-and-white Muntz and watched Neil Armstrong walk on the lunar surface.
There was Woodstock, the music festival that drew a half-million people on Max Yasger's farm in Bethel, NY. Acts such as Janis Joplin, The Who and Jimi Hendrix were pushing the envelope of live performance.
I wanted to grow my hair long right then and there and start a band. If we were older, you could bet my brother and I and our friends would have been there.
The Mets were our team. We lived in Flushing and Shea Stadium was practically in our backyard. We loved the Mets, but we never thought we'd ever see a winning team, but here were the Mets right in the thick of the pennant race.
If you're a kid and you live and die by your team, this was beyond awesome.
Everything that summer just seemed to click. I've had some great summers since, but I don't think anything could ever match the feel of '69. The optimism, the attitudes—it just seemed like a giant light went on. American culture would never be the same.
Bryan Adams, you were dead on—it was the best year of our lives.