WWII History Making Decades WWII-Present Essay

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History Making Decades WWII-Present

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Many consider the end of WWII to have ushered in the modern era in global politics. One reason for this is based on WWII as an end -- the end of Nazi politics in Europe and of European politics as dominating politics on a worldwide scale. Another reason for naming WWII as the beginning of the modern era is based on WWII as another beginning -- the beginning of the Cold War, which started an era of global bipolarism, an arms struggle, and many of the scientific and military advancements that the world now takes for granted. When one considers the world of WWII and the contemporary world, it becomes clear that society has changed by leaps and bounds in the Western world in just a few short years. Each decade from 1950 until today has witnessed hundreds and thousands of influential moments in political, technical, social, and medical history. These changes have made the world the place it is today -- from its culture to its technological advancements. However, in each decade, one event stands out above all others, the event that has most changed history, the event -- above all others -- that is the most important among all of the amazing changes that have taken place in that decade. In some of these decades, these events are technical, a new piece of machinery or invention that has changed the way that people throughout most of the world live their lives. In others, the event is of striking political significance. Still, some other events are cultural and social, events that have left a lasting impact on the lives of those who have come in the decades after them. Through a discussion of each of the decades since the end of WWII to the modern era -- the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s -- and the most important social, political, or economic event that occurred in them, it becomes easier to understand the connections that historical events have with one another and how they shape history.


Essay on WWII History Making Decades WWII-Present Many Consider Assignment

The 1950s was an era filled with social, political, and economic issues that have had a great impact on the modern world. The introduction of the first credit card, seat belts, and a great deal of modern weaponry in the height of the Cold War arms race have all had a major impact on contemporary society. However, the event that had the greatest impact on not only the American people, but people all over the world occurred on December 1, 1955, when a young Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus so that a white man could sit down. Rosa's actions occurred just one year after segregation was declared illegal in the United States, however Montgomery, Alabama still declared what she did to be illegal. She was arrested and faced a fine for violating a Montgomery city ordinance, but her actions would have more implication than she knew at the time ("Rosa Parks Biography," 2005). Because of her refusal to be segregated based simply on her race with no mind to her other abilities -- she was a civil rights campaigner and prominent worker for the NAACP before the incident occurred -- the Montgomery Improvement Association lead by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was founded and the Montgomery bus boycott got underway ("Rosa Parks Biography," 2005). However, Parks' actions affected far more than simply one Alabama city. Instead, the bus boycott eventually lead to a Supreme Court decision that would strike down the Montgomery ordinance and uphold the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education the year before. Despite the fact that Parks acted after the official end of segregation in the United States, actual repeal of these laws was not occurring efficiently due to the hate that many people expressed toward African-Americans. Parks was a symbol of the non-violent protest that would mark the Civil Rights movement, the same protest that Dr. Martin Luther King and other leaders would use in order to show the world that they did not want to harm anyone, but only wanted no harm to come to themselves and others who were different.

Rosa Parks' decision to remain seated on the bus that day affectively began the civil rights movement, and it is because of that movement that people of all races, abilities, and background in the United States can now enjoy similar freedoms. Dove (1999) writes, "When she remained seated, that simple decision eventually led to the disintegration of institutionalized segregation of the south, ushering in a new era of the civil rights movement" (para. 1). Not only have people in America been greatly affected by this movement, as diversity is now something that is to be honored in the United States and people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds are now making the trek to freedom, but also America has stood as a beacon around the world for allowing the light of freedom and equality to shine -- encouraging reforms elsewhere.


That Parks' actions affected the American people was made clear in the 1960s, when the civil rights movement entered full swing, and people across the nation began protesting what they believed to be wrong in a variety of venues. The peace sign, created at the end of the 1950s, became the sign for the social reform of the 60s and 70s -- the ongoing civil rights movement, development of the National Organization for Women, and the Vietnam protests. Also contained in the 1960s were the presidency of John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, two monumental men in American history for entirely different reasons. Blunders and important actions in military history, such as the U-2 incident at the beginning of the era and the Vietnam War at the end lead many to distrust in the American military. The ongoing Cold War encouraged others to put their faith in it. It may seem foolish to say that the event that most impacted the American people in the midst of this turmoil was a three-day music festival in August. However, the Woodstock festival during the summer of 1969 was a symbol of what had occurred during the decade prior and what would occur in the 1970s -- it's cultural and political influence cannot be underestimated. Perlstein (2009), in his article for the New York Times on the significance of the event, argues that the festival was of the utmost significance because it allowed the media to show the rest of the world that the counterculture was "a good thing" (para. 1). Indeed, Perlstein (2009) quotes the Time article about the festival, which appeared August 29, 2009, and insisted that the festival be counted among the great historical events of the era. The Woodstock Preservation Archives (2001), a group dedicated to maintaining the legacy of the festival, argues that the festival is not only important because of the monumental musical talent that was displayed, but because of the ensuing counterculture, which was to be named, "Woodstock Nation." Thus, Woodstock was a symbol of the social movement that had engulfed and was about to engulf to an even greater extent the United States, it was a movement concerned with civil rights, social justice, freedom, and an acceptance of diversity and end to war. Woodstock Nation came to embody the values that today's left have legitimized into a policy platform -- at least for the most part.


Woodstock Nation carried through the 1970s, with several profound political implications, including the end of the Vietnam War, Roe v. Wade, Watergate, and the resignation of President Nixon. Many international affairs also occurred during this era that would have important implications for contemporary America, such as the Munich terrorist attacks and the return of the Ayatollah in Iran. However, the shootings at Kent State at the beginning of the era had the most profound impact on the American people, as this event made Americans see that danger was not only facing them from the outside -- from communism and the Cold War, but that the struggle for civil rights and freedom in the United States would not be without casualties. During the shootings, four people were killed and nine were wounded by National Guardsmen who had been called in due to the anti-war protests. The students dispersed after an emotional plea by a professor who urged them to leave to avoid more deaths ("Kent State," 2000). Lewis and Hensley (1998) cite work that suggests the Kent State shootings aided in ending the Nixon administration and had "a direct impact on politics" (para. 1). Regardless, the incident sparked a student strike that forced many Universities to close their doors. The violence, and the fact that not all the students killed and wounded had been part of the demonstration, forced the American people to consider whether they were really allowed to exercise freedom in the United States.


The 1980s was a time of technological revolution and political focus. Although the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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