The year 1968 was one of the most dramatic twelve months in American history. It would be remembered as a year of assassinations, riots, manic protests and political change. During 1968, two iconic symbols of peace were assassinated; Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert. F. Kennedy. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was on the second floor balcony, leaving his hotel room with his entourage. Following his assassination, many black communities erupted in riots and violence. .
Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated while being escorted out of the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel, moments after winning the California Democratic primary. The assassin was Sirhan Sirhan. America - and the world - was in shock to hear that only two months after King's death, there had another assassination of a major public advocate for peace.
At the same time, the movement against the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war was beginning to gain national prominence. After the Tet Offensive, 70,000 North Vietnamese troops coordinated a series of attacks. Even though US forces were able to hold back and retake lost ground, this display of north Vietnamese forces shocked and dismayed the American people and support for the war. This would be the flame that sparks protest across the nation.
1968 was also seen as a political turning point. It was the year President Johnson signed the civil rights act and the year that Richard M. Nixon came back from his loss to John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1960, beating Hubert Humphrey in one of the closest elections in American History. .
The stirrings of a possible war with Vietnam started began in 1962, when president JFK ordered military advisers to go to Vietnam in order to assist the south Vietnamese army in their attempt to overthrew the corrupt, oppressive and unpopular "Diem Regime". After the overthrowing the old Vietnamese regime, the United States quickly installed new leadership in Vietnam.