Monday, September 10, 2012

My Summer of 1965

In the Spring of 1965, based on a letter I had submitted during a contest telling why I would like to be a Summer youth delegate to the United Nations, I was informed that  my entry had been selected.   As luck would have it, a friend from church had applied and her entry was also selected .   We were the only delegates selected who knew each other prior to trip.  Early on the morning of June 7th,, we were picked up in Charlotte by the bus that had picked up youth in all major cities from the South.   Kids continued boarding the bus as we traveled towards New York City.  There were 26 of us plus chaperones when we checked into Times Square Hotel that evening.  We were one excited group of kids.  When all the others got in from other parts of the United States there were a total of sixty-one.  We all ranged between the ages of sixteen and nineteen.  I was not quite seventeen.  In addition to our UN involvement, we also had the prospect of visiting the 1965 New York City World’s Fair.  This little farm girl was on cloud nine.

Over the next few days we attended the summer peacekeeping sessions.  I wish I could tell you that the meetings we attended were full of excitement  and that we learned a lot, but truthfully the trip was not as well organized as it should have been - and most of the meetings were rather long and boring.  We could sit in on the sessions, but there was very little acknowledgement that we were there and there was not much in the way of explanation at the end of the day by the coordinators.  In only one of the sessions – the last one - were we encouraged to ask questions and comment - and I was, and still am proud of the sincerity and interest that we expressed that day.  We were having our say - and we were saying it loud and clear.

Later that year, a Resolution was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.  It was Resolution number 2037 (XX) – “ Declaration on the Promotion Among Youth of the Ideals of Peace, Mutual Respect and Understanding Between Peoples”.  I've often wondered if our little peacekeeping pilot program was instrumental in the making of that resolution.
You can see the resolution at this link.    Excerpts of this resolution include the following paragraphs:

Young people shall be brought up in the spirit of peace, justice, freedom, mutual respect and understanding in order to promote equal rights for all human beings and all nations, economic and social progress, disarmament and the maintenance of international peace and security.

 Young people shall be brought up in the knowledge of the dignity and equality of all men, without distinction as to race, colour, ethnic origins or beliefs, and in respect for fundamental human rights and for the right of peoples to self-determination. 
Young people must become conscious of their responsibilities in the world they will be called upon to manage and should be inspired with confidence in a future of happiness for mankind.”

This resolution seems to have been seen through a crystal ball.  The young people of 1965 are now those of us approaching our retirement years.    We have lived up to the words of the resolution.   We have been and still  are instrumental in promoting equal rights for all human beings and all nations.  We have seen much economic and social progress and have always been concerned about international peace and security.  We have fought for the equality of all men.  No other young people throughout history have been more conscious of our responsibilities in the world and we have been called upon and met the challenge of managing and inspiring confidence in a future of happiness for mankind.

The summer of 1965 will be etched in my mind as long as I live.  We were typical teenagers and did what typical teenagers do – we roamed the streets of New York City after our chaperones were asleep – even taking the subway to Coney Island in the middle of the night.  I’m not overly proud of breaking the rules, but would break them again just to experience all that we experienced that summer. 

Our New York City trip was followed by a few days in Washington, DC where we saw the sights and also were allowed to sit in on some congressional meetings.  Roaming the halls of Congress - we were a spunky lot.   We were teens during the tumultuous years of the 1960's.  I'm sure our parents did have their moments when they wondered if we would ever grow up.  I, like others of that time period,  had just enough rebel in me to create a little havoc, but enough self respect to not let it carry me away.  Sometimes I think it takes that kind of spunky mixture to fuel the flames of the future.

 I don’t think I fully realized until later in life how much of an impression this trip made on me.  It fueled my interest in peacekeeping and social justice and instilled in me a confidence that we can make a difference.  Seeds were planted that week and I've often wondered what the others in our group brought back home with them.  Are any of our group of kids in the Capitol Building now as lawmakers?  If they are, I'm hoping they're using the same fire and imagination that we had that Summer - the Summer of '65.



  1. What a great post Glenda, and what an amazing experience that must have been for you at such a young age, and not being a city girl! That was such a good Resolution and I agree with you that we have fully played our part in this. I'm sure that our grandchildren will be equally responsible as they seem so aware of everything these days .

    1. Diane, I do think that our grandchildren are even more aware of their responsibilities than we were. I tried to instill it in my children and they are passing it along to theirs.

  2. Seeing the way some children are raised today makes me wonder what this world will be like in the future. However, I'm sure our seniors thought the same about us when we were young, too.

    1. Mike, when I think about our actions that summer, I'm aware that they were a mixture of rebelliousness and a sense of responsibility. I think that's how my generation grew up and it generated the "I can do it" attitude that has brought about social change and entrepreneurship in our country.

  3. I can see this experience has had a lasting effect on you Glenda (as well it should) how lucky you were.

    Great post, thanks for sharing this with us.

  4. what an incredible opportunity that was, and such a great memory.


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