The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 13, 2008

‘Summer of 1968’ section chronicles a turning point in the nation’s history

By Cindy Allen, Managing Editor

The year 1968 has been a topic of much attention this past year, as our nation has remembered the terrible tragedies of the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.

A number of critical events happened that year, including major battles in Vietnam, the preparation for a manned mission to the moon and even the Olympics in Mexico City. It was a time of civil unrest and social transformation that has very much shaped our nation as it is today.

The staff of the Enid News & Eagle decided a good project would be to have our readers help us remember that year — particularly that summer — through their own observations and experiences.

Our readers have not failed us. In today’s News & Eagle, we are including an eight-page special edition with remembrances from those with local ties about what was going on here and elsewhere in that famous and pivotal year.

Special Projects Editor David Kinnamon conducted interviews with local people who saw first-hand some of the activities of that year. Their interviews can be found in this section, and we also have provided video interviews with this people online at www.enidnews.com.

“After investing several hours interviewing local folks who were young people in Enid back in 1968, and also conducting about 30 hours of microfilm research, it’s as if I’ve been transported by a time machine back to Enid as it was in 1968,” Kinnamon said.

“The universal perception folks have given me during the interviews is 1968 was intense,” Kinnamon said. “Several people remarked they went to bed each night excited for what momentous news the next day would bring.”

The memories of those interviewed, and also the readers who submitted their own personal essays, is Enid in 1968 was mostly a conservative town — a military town. While college campuses and other areas of the nation were experiencing the hippie movement, Enid kids still mostly were clean cut, but they were intensely interested in what was going on in the rest of the nation.

“The folks I’ve spoken with and letters mailed and e-mailed to the paper the past several weeks have offered up several people who had hippie leanings, who yearned to identify with the hippie movement in America but never crossed that line,” Kinnamon said.

As Kinnamon learned, many of our young men were serving in the military and in Vietnam. They had tragic and heroic stories to tell — a tale of sacrifice and of fear.

Our stories give a little snapshot of what Enid was like for our local young people at the time. There are many stories that could be told. This section is a compilation of some of the stories of that year, about Enid and the nation and our people.

Take a step back in time and remember the “Summer of 1968” through the eyes of Enid and northwest Oklahoma people.