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The continued resilience of Quiet America


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Victor Davis Hanson

Mar. 7 2019

Fifty years ago, the United States was facing crises and unrest on multiple fronts. Some predicted that internal chaos and revolution would unravel the nation.

The 1969 Vietnam War protests on the UC Berkeley campus turned so violent that National Guard helicopters indiscriminately sprayed tear gas on student demonstrators. Later that year, hundreds of thousands of people filled the streets of major cities as part of the "Moratorium to the End the War in Vietnam." In Washington, D.C., about a half-million protesters marched to the White House.

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Yet a wounded United States did not just survive 1969, but reached new heights of scientific, technological and cultural achievement.

For the first time in history, a national economy produced more than $1 trillion worth of goods and services in a single year, as American nominal GDP for 1969 exceeded that level.

America also put the first humans on the moon in 1969 -- and did it twice the same year, with the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 lunar missions.

Boeing's 747 jumbo jet made its first successful test flight in 1969.

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America is such a huge and diverse country, and so abundantly endowed with natural and human resources, that it is capable of achieving unprecedented scientific, economic and technological breakthroughs even as its social fabric is tearing apart.

Or, put another way, while the media highlights crime, protests, grievances and civil disorder, a majority of Americans still go to work unbothered each day.

And in a rare society with a free market, constitutional government and individual freedom, people continue to do amazing things even amid the utter chaos around them.

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