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May 2, 2013 - Phyllis Sigal
Time is running out on 1968.

The exhibit, that is.

"1968: The Year That Rocked America," is now on display at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.

If you were alive in 1968 — or even if your weren't — it's an eye-opening exhibit.

A "watershed" year in American history, says the website, it was a "turning point for the nation and its people."

The Vietnam War. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Night of the Living Dead. The assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy. Black Power at the Olympic Games. Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.

Pop culture. Free love. Civil rights and women's rights.

What a year it was. I turned 11 in February of 1968, the same week in which the Pentagon announced the highest weekly death toll of the Vietnam War.

You enter the exhibit through a living room (where the furniture reminded me of furniture that I grew up with) to a television blaring news about the escalating conflict of the Tet Offensive. In that living room is a Bell UHI "Huey" Helicopter, big as life.

Once you leave the comfort of the living room, you round the helicopter where Vietnam veterans, a nurse and others tell their tales while a video plays against the inside of the helicopter.

Next, you move into TV land where you can watch snippets of all your favorite shows from 1968: Star Trek. Family Affair. Get Smart. Mission Impossible. And more.

Visit Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, with a life-size wax figure. And, boy does he look real.

Watch the train go by with Robert F. Kennedy's body aboard.

See Janis Joplin's bell bottoms and boa.

Remember kitchen appliances, Barbie, draft cards, fashions, peace signs, home decor ... it's all there.

Listen to Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and the news of his assassination.

Make an album cover with your face and psychedelic graphics, play music trivia and cast your vote for the 1968 presidential election.

Despite the strife and horror of the year's events, it ended on a positive note with images of Earth beamed back from space for the first time. A full-size replica of Apollo 8 Command Module also is on display.

The exhibit will be at the Heinz History Center until May 12.

It's groovy, man. Peace out.

 
 

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