It Was Fifty Years Ago Today Series: Mallory’s Journal Entries for April
April 2, 1968
A string of beautiful mild days, so we took a picnic to the lake [Dow Lake]. Things are going well, and yet I feel a sense of foreboding. Don’t know why. Maybe it’s chemical imbalance. We are, after all, biochemical animals subject to the whims of our own body’s mysterious processes. Maybe all the planning and figuring and resolves are futile since at any moment it’s possible to dissolve without warning into utter confusion.
April 14, 1968
I’ve been painting again! Have finished two canvases in the past month, so at least something to show for my time. A much different direction from my previous work—don’t know quite what to make of it, but will keep exploring.
And yet, alongside this small personal victory, many distressing events “out there.” The African American leader, Martin Luther King, was assassinated on April 4. They don’t yet know who did it. There have been fierce riots in many cities around the country including a huge one in Baltimore that isn’t yet contained. I see this as a big set-back for race relations in this country. What a disaster!
April 18, 1968
How can spring be so beautiful? Blossoms everywhere, lilacs in bloom. The sun is warm and the world seems hospitable. So rare back here in the grey gloom of Appalachia. Given the situation of the world and my own grim mood, it seems a cruel joke to see the weather so soft and merciful.
I’ve been struggling with political decisions, trying to determine if there is a candidate for the up-coming election who might bring some sanity to this bleeding country. We [John and I] have been looking hard at Gene McCarthy as a potential candidate. We’ve unhappy with some of Bobby Kennedy’s past actions such as the connections between Kennedy and his ties to the McCarthy hearings in the 50s. But I’ve got to admit, his speech following Dr. King’s death was very convincing. Will have to do more research.
And in the larger world…
April 4, 1968
Martin Luther King Jr. spends the day at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis working and meeting with local leaders on plans for his Poor People’s March on Washington to take place late in the month. At 6 pm, as he greets the car and friends in the courtyard, King is shot with one round from a 30.06 rifle. He will be declared dead just an hour later at St. Joseph’s hospital. After an international man-hunt James Earl Ray will be arrested on June 27 in England, and convicted of the murder. Ray died in prison in 1998.
Robert Kennedy, hearing of Dr. King’s murder just before he is to give a speech in Indianapolis, IN, delivers a powerful extemporaneous eulogy in which he said, “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.”[
United States Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford calls 24,500 military reserves to action for 2 year commitments, and announces a new troop ceiling of 549,500 American soldiers in Vietnam.
The following photos were taken in 1968 by 1st Lt. Bruce Bussell, USAF, while on duty in Viet Nam. Bruce was a classmate of mine at La Sierra High School ion California.
“These VN PIX were all 1968 original 35mm color slides that I took with a TOPCON UNI camera while moving around VN working as a USAF WEATHER FORECASTER for various Air Force and Army units.” Bruce Bussell
A rally and occupation of the Low administrative office building at Columbia University, planned to protest the university’s participation in the Institute for Defense Analysis is scuttled by conservative students and university security officers. The action eventually results in the occupation of five building. It will culminate seven days later when police storm the buildings and violently remove the students and their supporters at the Columbia administration’s request.