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Counterculture During The Vietnam Era Essay

1167 words - 5 pages

Counterculture During the Vietnam Era

With a country in shambles as a result of the Vietnam War, thousands of young men and women took their stand through rallies, protests, and concerts. A large number of young Americans opposed the war; with a common feeling of anti-war, thousands of youths united as one. This new culture of opposition spread like wild fire with alternative lifestyles blossoming, people coming together and reviving their communal efforts, demonstrated in the Woodstock Art and Music festival. The use of drugs, mainly marijuana, became a staple in the community of anti-war youths. The countercultures’ radical views and actions caused American society to turn its head and look to the young. They set themselves out as a group and were going to stand up for their rights as well as the rights of mankind.

Songs of peace and harmony were chanted throughout protests and anti-war demonstrations, America’s youth was changing rapidly. Never before had the younger generation been so outspoken. Fifty thousand flower children and hippies traveled to San Francisco for the "Summer of Love," with the Beatles’ hits song, "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band" (listen) as their light in the dark. The largest anti-war demonstration in history was held when 25,000 people marched from the Capitol to the Washington Monument, once again, showing the unity of youth.1

More than any other countercultural group, hippies reflected a deep discontent with technocracy- society’s reliance on scientific experts who ruled coldly and dispassionately and who wielded enormous power. Hippies said good-bye to that and hello to the mystical spirit, oneness with the universe- life as passion, passion as life, harmony, and understanding. The hippies believed they could develop their vision in communes in which they congregated.2

Counterculture groups rose to every debatable occasion. Groups such as the Chicago Seven, Students for a Democratic Society, and on a whole, a new term, New Left, was given to the generation of the Sixties that was radicalized by social injustices, the civil rights movement, and the war in Vietnam. One specific incident was when Richard Nixon appeared on television to announce the invasion of Cambodia by the United States, and the need to draft 150,000 more soldiers. At Kent State University in Ohio, protestors launched a riot, which included fires, injuries, and even death.1

Through the growth of the new youth’s culture’s open hostility to the values of middle-class society the counterculture was formed. America became more aware of its young generation. Through protests, riots, and anti-war demonstrations, they challenged the very structure of American Society, and spoke out for what they believed in. Lisa Law stated her views; "The counterculture was an attempt to rebel against the values our parents had pushed on us."1 From the days of Woodstock to today, our fashion reflects the trends set in Woodstock. Trends such as...

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