Special Report

Most Important Event the Year You Were Born

Source: Express Newspapers / Getty Images

1967: Six-Day War
> Date: June 5
> Location: Middle East

Amid escalating tensions with its neighbors, Israel launches a pre-emptive strike that destroys most of Egypt’s air force. Syria, Jordan, and Iraq also attack Israel. As the war continues, Israel takes the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, captures East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, and in heavy fighting seizes the Golan Heights from Syria. A ceasefire went into effect on June 10.

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1968: Dream Denied
> Date: April 4
> Location: Memphis, Tennessee

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is fatally shot by James Earl Ray as the civil rights icon stands on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, a tragedy that sparks race riots nationwide. King’s influence in words and actions touch and move not only the nation, but the world, and resonate to this day. Two months later, on June 4, Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy and brother of John F. Kennedy, is fatally shot by Sirhan Sirhan, an Arab Christian from Jerusalem, who believes Kennedy is “instrumental” in oppressing Palestinians.

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1969: Landing on the Moon
> Date: July 20
> Location: Moon

President Kennedy’s goal of a manned lunar landing before 1970 is realized six years after his assassination. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins blast off from the Kennedy Space Center at 9:32 a.m. aboard the Saturn V rocket. After three days of travel, Armstrong and Aldrin land the Eagle module on the lunar surface as Collins remains in lunar orbit to pilot the module. Upon their return to Earth, the three astronauts are put in 21-day quarantine to ensure they do not bring back any lunar contagions.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

1970: Vietnam War Turns To Cambodia
> Date: April 29
> Location: Eastern Cambodia

Although the United States should be scaling back U.S. troop presence in Vietnam, President Richard Nixon approves an operation with the South Vietnamese to invade Cambodia to oust Northern Vietnamese forces there. The Cambodian incursion inflames anti-war protests in the United States as it is perceived to be an escalation of U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

1971: Pentagon Papers
> Date: Feb. 8
> Location: Laos

The Pentagon Papers, a study by the U.S. Department of Defense about the country’s involvement in the Vietnam war, are released and published first in The New York Times, then other newspapers. The documents expose several missteps and how several administrations have misled the American public regarding the war in Vietnam. They also reveal an expanded campaign in Cambodia and Laos, especially clandestine bombing in Laos, which today is considered the heaviest bombardment in history.

Source: Keystone / Getty Images

1972: Nixon Goes To China
> Date: Feb. 21
> Location: Beijing

Nixon, a virulent anti-communist earlier in his political career, surprises the American public by traveling to Beijing for a week of talks in a historic first step toward normalizing relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. Until this trip, the United States and communist China were de facto enemies, fighting proxy wars in the Korean Peninsula in the 1950s and South Vietnam at the time of Nixon’s visit.

Source: Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

1973: Roe vs. Wade
> Date: Jan. 22
> Location: Washington D.C.

In a landmark 7-2 decision that will be known as Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court rules that under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, states cannot completely bar a woman’s decision to terminate her pregnancy. However, the court adds that as the pregnancy develops, the state can balance a woman’s right to privacy with its interest in preserving the “potentiality of human life.” As a result, states can ban abortion in the third trimester except in cases where a pregnancy affects a woman’s health.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

1974: Nixon Resigns Out
> Date: Aug. 8
> Location: Washington D.C.

President Richard Nixon announces his resignation amid impeachment proceedings stemming from the Watergate scandal and his administration’s attempt resist a congressional investigation. The scandal exposes abuses of power by the White House after five burglars were busted breaking in to the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. Nixon becomes the only president in U.S. history to resign.

Source: Keystone / Getty Images

1975: Saigon Falls
> Date: April 30
> Location: South Vietnam

Two years after the last American troops leave Vietnam, communist troops from North Vietnam capture Saigon, ending nearly two decades of relentless war in the rice paddies and jungles of that Southeast Asian nation. The final tally of war dead for the United States is 58,220.

Source: Keystone / Getty Images

1976: The Concorde Changes Air Travel
> Date: Jan. 21
> Location: London and Paris

Two supersonic Concorde jets take off simultaneously — one from London to Bahrain, operated by British Airways, and the other from Paris to Rio de Janeiro via Dakar in Senegal, operated by Air France — marking the first time paying passengers enjoy commercial travel at faster than the speed of sound. Though travel by one of the 16 Concordes ever put into service could slash travel time from New York to London in half, the high cost of maintenance, soaring ticket prices, as well as a fatal accident in 2000, sealed the fate of the narrow, slope-nosed aircraft.