The final year of the 1960's proved to be a tumultuous time for not only

for13 year-old Kevin Arnold, but for the American people as a whole. As the nation struggled with matters of government and foreign affairs, young

Kevin was forced to deal with a similarly daunting situation: the

transition from childhood into young adulthood...


The year of 1969 began with Kevin attending Robert F. Kennedy Jr. High

School, and once again confused with the complexities of love. With his

true-love, Winnie, dating another boy, Kevin found himself in the arms

of another girl: Becky. Torn between his true feelings for Winnie and

his desire to make her jealous, Kevin learns a lesson in life: love is a

complicated matter.


While Kevin was dealing with the hardships of teen love, the rest of the

country's attention was focused upon the developing situation in

Vietnam. Shortly after President Nixon took office in January 1969, the

"Vietnamization" program was accelerated. Vietnamization was the

training and equipping of South Vietnamese forces to fight their own war

so the U.S. could withdraw its forces as had been planned since 1962.

The first U.S. troops departed in July and by the end of the year,

69,000 had been withdrawn.


The issues surrounding the conflict in Southeast Asia eventually found

their way to the halls of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. High School. Finding

himself elected to the student council, Kevin became a head organizer of

an anti-war walkout demonstration. Mentored by a radicalist teacher,

Kevin began doubting the system, asking self-critical questions of

himself, and, along with the 800 other students who joined him in the

walkout, facing the consequences of free-thinking.


In the meantime, momentous events were transpiring above the earth, as

well. At approximately 8:32am on July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 mission

was launched from Kennedy Space Center. 102 and 45 minutes later, the

lunar module touched down on the surface of the moon. Neil Armstrong

became the first man to set foot on our lunar neighbor, followed close

behind by Buzz Aldrin. The occasion marked not only a crowning

achievement for America, but a landmark for all of mankind.


In a further attempt to gain Winnie's favor, Kevin found himself in

conflict with Eddie Pinetti, the school bully. When he learned that

Winnie and Eddie were dating, Kevin confronted his object of affection,

only to be told that "Eddie is a really nice person." However, Winnie's

feelings changed after Eddie was derisive toward her in public. In an

attempt to protect Winnie's honor, Kevin suffered a beating at the hands

of the bully; however, a simple smile from Winnie later, and his wounds

were forgotten.


Also in the summer of 1969 was the event that would come to

be symbolic of a generation: Woodstock. What initially began as simple music

festival in quiet, upstate New York resulted in perhaps the greatest

rock spectacle in history. More than 450,000 people showed up in a

muddy field to celebrate "three days of peace" together. The liberating

attitude of the hippie counter-culture was epitomized by the Woodstock

experience, with mind-bending drugs, psychedelic music, and free love

reigning over the masses.


Kevin's thirteenth birthday, which occurred just four days before his

friend Paul's, brought about a new perspective in family. Being Jewish,

Paul was set to commemorate his passage into manhood on his birthday;

Kevin, on the other hand, sensed no special significance regarding HIS

birthday. He viewed Paul's family as a unit with strong Jewish ties,

while Winnie's family was rooted in Irish heritage. Feeling a bit

envious, Kevin questioned his mother of his own lineage, discovering a

scattered ancestry. From his inquiry, though, Kevin's eyes were opened

to the diversity that is American culture.


And at no point in 1969 was diversity a greater factor than in November,

in the nation's capital. More than 250,000 people--of all age, race,

and genders--gathered along the shores of the reflecting pool in a

statement against American involvement in Vietnam. It proved to be the

largest anti-war protest in American history. It coming together in

peace, their quiet voices were louder than any violent declaration.


Throughout 1969, Kevin was witness to the domestic troubles of the

Cooper family. With her brother's death in early 1968, Winnie and her

parents struggled with some difficult times, culminating in her father's

withdrawl from the family and subsequent move to Chicago. Sadly, this

sort of broken home has become quasi-normal in our modern society, and

unlike in television, where Winnie's father eventually returned to his

loved ones, the breakdown of the American family is often permanent.


Chris Kula