A half century ago, much of the news in the United States was dominated by the actions of civil rights activists and those who opposed them. Our role in Vietnam was steadily growing, along with the costs of that involvement. It was the year Beatlemania began, and the year President John F. Kennedy visited West Berlin and delivered his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech. Push-button telephones were introduced, 1st class postage cost 5 cents, and the population of the world was 3.2 billion, less than half of what it is today. The final months of 1963 were punctuated by one of the most tragic events in American history, the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. Let me take you 50 years into the past now, for a look at the world as it was in 1963.
Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. waves to supporters on the Mall in Washington, D.C. during the "March on Washington," on August 28, 1963. King said the march was "the greatest demonstration of freedom in the history of the United States."
A Helmeted U.S. Helicopter Crewchief watches ground movements of Vietnamese troops from above during a strike against Viet Cong Guerrillas in the Mekong Delta Area, on January 2, 1963. The communist Viet Cong claimed victory in the continuing struggle in Vietnam after they shot down five U.S. helicopters. An American officer was killed and three other American servicemenre injured in the action. By 1963, nearly 16,000 American military personnel were deployed in South Vietnam.
(AP Photo) #
The use of small, portable TV sets in the U.S. had not quite caught on in 1963, but in Japan, where they were first developed, viewers were hooked on the miniaturized video machine. Owners of the sets, such as this patient in a Tokyo hospital, took them with them wherever they went.
(AP Photo/Hideyuki Mihashi)
Napalm air strikes raise clouds of smoke into gray monsoon skies as houseboats glide down the Perfume River toward Hue in Vietnam, on February 28, 1963, where the battle for control of the old Imperial City has ended with a Communist defeat. Firebombs were directed against a village on the outskirts of Hue.
Powered sledges break a trail through Maine's primitive Allagash Forest, on March 5, 1963. Twenty men, led by an expert on Arctic equipment, made an extended trip through the forest to test equipment. Robert Faylor, director of the Arctic Institute of North America, led the group. The sledges, called Polaris vehicles, are powered with engines about the size of an outboard motor and travel up to 8 or 10 miles an hour, depending on snow conditions.
(AP Photo/Dan Grossi)
After the eruption of Mount Agung in Bali, on March 26, 1963, most of the cabins have been destroyed in this village. On March 17, the volcano erupted, sending debris into the air and generating massive pyroclastic flows. These flows devastated numerous villages, killing approximately 1,500 people.
Admiral Richard Byrd's "Little America III" station, built in Antarctic in 1940, was spotted by a Navy icebreaker sticking out of the side of this floating iceberg in the Antarctic's Ross Sea, on March 13, 1963. The old outpost was buried beneath 25 feet of snow, 300 miles away from its original location. A helicopter pilot flew in close and reported cans and supplies still stacked neatly on shelves.
(AP Photo/Official U.S. Navy Photo)
Bluebird, the 5,000 horsepower car in which Donald Campbell hopes to break the world land speed record, pictured during its first run, with Campbell at the controls, during preliminary tests on the specially prepared track at Lake Eyre, South Australia on May 2, 1963. Torrential rains flooded the lake, postponing his run until the following year, when he set a record of 403.10 mph (648.73 km/h).
The launch of the Mercury Atlas 9 rocket with astronaut Gordon Cooper on board from Launch Pad 14 at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on May 5, 1963. Mercury Atlas 9 was the final manned space mission of the U.S. Mercury program, successfully completing 22 Earth orbits before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.
A 17-year-old civil rights demonstrator, defying an anti-parade ordinance in Birmingham, Alabama, is attacked by a police dog on May 3, 1963. On the afternoon of May 4, 1963, during a meeting at the White House with members of a political group, President Kennedy discussed this photo, which had appeared on the front page of that day's New York Times.
(AP Photo/Bill Hudson)
Alabama's governor George Wallace (left) faces General Henry Graham, in Tuscaloosa, at the University of Alabama, on June 12, 1963. Wallace blocked the enrollment of two African-American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood. Despite an order of the federal court, Governor George Wallace appointed himself the temporary University registrar and stood in the doorway of the administration building to prevent the students from registering. In response, President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard. One hundred guardsman escorted the students to campus and their commander, General Henry Graham, ordered George Wallace to "step aside." Thus were the students registered. Kennedy addressed the public in a June 11 speech that cleared his position on civil rights. The bill that he submitted to Congress was ultimately passed as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Robert Fahsenfeldt, owner of a segregated lunchroom in the racially tense Eastern Shore community of Cambridge, Maryland, douses a white integrationist with water, on July 8, 1963. The integrationist, Edward Dickerson, was among three white and eight African American protesters who knelt on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant to sing freedom songs. A raw egg, which Fahsenfeldt had broken over Dickerson's head moments earlier, still is visible on the back of Dickerson's head. The protesters were later arrested.
(AP Photo/William A. Smith)
White students in Birmingham, Alabama, drag an African American effigy past West End High School, on September 12, 1963. Two African American girls attended the desegregated school and a majority of the white students were staying away from classes. Police stopped this car in a segregationist caravan in front of the school to caution them about fast driving and blowing auto horns in front of a school.
A civil defense worker and firemen walk through debris from an explosion which struck the 16th street Baptist Church, killing four girls and injuring 22 others, in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 15, 1963. The open doorway at right is where the girls are believed to have died. The horrific attack rallied public support to the cause of civil rights. Four men, members a Ku Klux Klan group, were responsible for planting a box of dynamite under the steps of the church. Three of the four were eventually tried and convicted.
One trooper sprawls in the flooded swamp as other Vietnamese Government Soldiers walk through the water after landing from U.S. army Helicopters near CA Mau Peninsula in South Vietnam on September 15, 1963. The Soldiers were landed to pursue communist Viet Cong Guerrillas who had attacked a Vietnamese outpost.
(AP Photo/Horst Faas)
At 12:30 pm, just seconds after President John F. Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally were shot in Dallas, Texas, the limousine carrying mortally wounded president races toward the hospital, on November 22, 1963. With secret service agent Clinton Hill riding on the back of the car, Mrs. John Connally, wife of the Texas governor, bends over her wounded husband, and Mrs. Kennedy leans over the president.
(AP Photo/Justin Newman)
Flanked by Jacqueline Kennedy (right) and his wife Lady Bird Johnson (2nd left), U.S Vice President Lyndon Johnson is administered the oath of office by Federal Judge Sarah Hughes, as he assumed the presidency of the United States, on November 22, 1963, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas
(Cecil Stoughton/AFP/Getty Images)
Lee Harvey Oswald, accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy, is placed on a stretcher after moments after being shot in the stomach in Dallas, Texas, on November 24, 1963. Nightclub owner Jack Ruby shot and killed Oswald as the prisoner was being transferred through the underground garage of Dallas police headquarters.
Three-year-old John F. Kennedy Jr. salutes his father's casket in Washington in this November 25, 1963 photo, three days after the president was assassinated in Dallas. Widow Jacqueline Kennedy, center, and daughter Caroline Kennedy are accompanied by the late president's brothers Senator Edward Kennedy, left, and Attorney General Robert Kennedy.