Do you remember the summer of 1972? I assume that most of you who read this do have memories that go back forty years. At the same time, I hope some readers are younger than 45 and will enjoy reading about things before they can remember.
One of the main events in June 1972 was the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. Thus began the Watergate scandal, which culminated with President Nixon resigning in August 1974, the first and only time a President has resigned.
Of much less national significance, on June 9, 1972, fourteen inches of rain fell in six hours in western South Dakota, bursting a dam near Rapid City and drowning 237 people. (I am glad a similar thing did not happen last week when June and I spent two nights in Rapid City.)
In July 1972 the Democratic National Convention, held in Miami, nominated Senator George McGovern to be the Democratic nominee for president. I was delighted with McGovern’s nomination, for he was one of the first and strongest congressional opponents to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
McGovern, who turns 90 next month, grew up in and still lives in Mitchell, South Dakota, the town where we spent the night of May 26. One wonders how much different (and better off) the nation would be now if McGovern had won the election of ’72. (The election this fall will also make a great difference in what this nation will be like four years, or forty years, from now.)
In August 1972 the last U.S. ground troops were withdrawn from Vietnam. I don’t know how much that was related to the candidacy of the anti-war Sen. McGovern, but in November Nixon was decisively re-elected President. The end of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War was not until 1975, though.
All of us remember the past not just because of significant national and world events, such as those mentioned above, but perhaps primarily for personal and family reasons. That is certainly true for me, as the summer of ’72 was an eventful one for my family.
The main event of the summer was the birth of our fourth (and last) child on June 3. (You know you are getting up in years when your youngest child celebrates his 40th birthday!)
The summer of 1972 was also the end of our first missionary “furlough.” We went to Japan as a family of four in 1966 and came back to the States for the first time in August 1971. We went back to Japan as a family of six, for our second daughter had been born in Japan in 1970.
Not long before leaving for Japan the second time, we had a family gathering at my folks’ farm northeast of Grant City, MO. One of the precious pictures taken that day is of my grandfather (J. Ray) Cousins holding our new baby, Ken. That weekend was the last time we saw Grandpa Cousins, for he died in 1974.
It wasn’t in the summer, but not long after arriving back in Japan, partly in protest to the continuing war in Vietnam (in spite of the withdrawal of ground troops), I began to grow a beard. So this year is, for me, the fortieth anniversary of my beard, which I couldn’t shave off now or I wouldn’t look like me anymore!