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The decade began with the Soviet Union shooting down a U.S. U-2 spy plane, further deteriorating relations between the two super powers. Cuba became a focal point with the failed Bay of Pigs invasion followed a few years later with the Cuban Missile Crisis—a time when the world stood on the precipice of a nuclear war. By the decade’s end, the United States was embroiled in Vietnam attempting to stop the aggression of the Communist North Vietnamese against South Vietnam.


May 16 -- The Soviets shoot down American pilot Gary Powers and his U-2 spy plane two weeks earlier.  Now, at a summit in Paris, Premier Khrushchev demands President Eisenhower apologize for the U-2 incident.  Receiving no apology, Khrushchev abruptly departs and the summit collapses.


December 19 -- Cuba openly aligns itself with the Soviet Union.  Americans and their government grow uneasy having a Communist ally so close to Florida and American soil.


April 17 -- A force of 1,600 Cuban rebels, trained and funded by the CIA, land near the Bay of Pigs in Cuba.  Within three days they are routed after the U.S. government withdraws its support, greatly embarrassing the new Kennedy administration.

  June 16 -- The Kennedy administration reaches an agreement with the Diem government to begin sending military advisors, training specialists, and others, along with increased material assistance to South Vietnam.

August 13 -- East Germany closes the border between East and West Berlin and two days later begins constructing the Berlin Wall, which becomes a symbol of a captive people and oppression.


October 15 -- The Cuban Missile Crisis begins as aerial photographs reveal to the Kennedy administration the presence of Soviet nuclear missiles under construction in Cuba.  A tense 13-day standoff ensues.


September 23 -- The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is ratified by the U.S. Senate.  It becomes the first major treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union and prohibits nuclear testing in the atmosphere, space, and underwater.


November 22 -- President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas, by Lee Harvey Oswald, a man with Communist and Cuban sympathies.


August 2 -- An American warship is attacked by a North Vietnamese gunboat in the Gulf of Tonkin.  In response to this and a possible second attack, President Johnson asks for and receives a War Powers Act, authorizing him to conduct military operations against North Vietnam.


October 16 -- The People’s Republic of China develops an A-bomb, heightening concerns of nuclear proliferation and shifting balances of power.


July 28 -- President Johnson announces that troop levels in Vietnam would increase to 125,000.  Within three years troop levels would exceed half a million.




January 30 -- The Tet Offensive begins when the Vietcong stage a surprise attack on cities and towns throughout South Vietnam, eventually taking the ancient capitol of Hue and penetrating Saigon to the gates of the Presidential Palace and the U. S. Embassy.  American and South Vietnamese troops drive the enemy back, but the credibility of American leadership suffers.


March 31 – President Johnson announces he will not seek nor accept nomination to a second term.

1969 July 20 -- Apollo 11 lands on the moon, and America celebrates its victory in the Space Race.  American astronauts return to the moon five more times before the Apollo missions end.  No other nation has yet attained a manned moon landing.