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
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69,000 had been withdrawn.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
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.