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Published:June 6th, 2014 14:47 EST
Part One of CNN`s 'The Sixties' Had Some News Footage I`ve Never Seen!

Part One of CNN`s 'The Sixties' Had Some News Footage I`ve Never Seen!

By John G. Kays

The 1960s could have been my major when I was in college, but I went ahead and recorded the first part (the series has ten parts) of CNN`s The Sixties (The World on the Brink) anyway, hoping I could, at least, pick-up some new information. I thought the one hour special, covering mainly the years of Kennedy`s Presidency, before his assassination (I mean), was well done. 

The approach was rather general, probably more appropriate for the generations of Americans who were born after this decade; as it is, The Sixties would be a great resource for American History teachers, requiring their students to watch the entire series as a homework assignment.

Personally, I`ve been studying the `60s all my life already; I do it naturally, since I grew up in this era, and furthermore, I`m a zealous student of history. Most of all, I`m looking for answers for why things worked out the way they did, and I`m wondering how this decade influenced the decades that followed it. 

The strongest point you can make about this particular segment, The World On the Brink, was what looks like (to me) some unseen or rarely seen news footage (I don`t recall seeing some of this celluloid) accompanying the narrative of events (Fall-Out Shelters, Berlin Wall, Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis etc.).

Specifically, I don`t recall ever seeing any of the footage shown on The Bay of Pigs, so this was a treat for me, and put this cursed event back in the forefront of my mind. There`s something about this black and white celluloid of Miami in 1961, where anti-Castro Cubans are seen volunteering at a CIA recruitment center (these Cubans didn`t even know it was sponsored by the CIA), to invade the island. It really puts you in that moment again! 

 A book just can`t do that for you; a photograph almost can do it, but I`d say, rare news film accomplishes this best. I mean, it takes you back to a critical moment in time. I remember the Fallout Shelter craze also; this segment had the same affect on me.

I clearly recall those atomic bomb drills when I was in elementary school; I thought to myself, no way is this going to protect us from an atomic bomb. It was a good gesture, but no cigar, if the bomb hit us at Cynthia Ann Parker, we`d be reduced to a pile of ash, just like those rich Romans at Pompeii in 79AD. My only hope was, if I got it, I`d be crumpled roadkill next to the dazzling beauty queen, Starr Lambert, as we ducked our heads for cover, taking a final gulp of that pure `60s oxygen! 

Then we`d be together for the remainder of eternity! I may be waylaid here; yet, this is a good sign the program is having its intended affect. During this time (`60, `61, `62), I developed lifelong interests in the nightly news, politics, and history; well, I wondered if I`d have to bother going to school the next day, or if, we`d end up vaporized, the effort was pointless. So I had to listen to Chet Huntley, wondering whether this was my last day on earth!

As far as the actual historical narrative goes, I`d still recommend books. There`s no good replacement for the detail you get with words. Although, The Cuban Missile Crisis has been given countless treatment in books and television specials, the coverage here was ample, especially regarding the hardtack Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev, who`s been largely misunderstood by history, and not always given proper credit. 

Khrushchev, along with JFK (post October `62), were committed to making The Cold War go away. Both of them may have been eliminated for their Dove-like commitments to Peace. Nikita and John anticipate what would come later on in the 1960s, a full-blown Renaissance of a Peace Movement. I can`t wait for Part 2!