1974 – If you were around at the time, and you were old enough to remember it, 1974 was a year we thought would never end fast enough. As Gerald Ford, our first dually un-elected vice-President and eventually President said; “Our long national nightmare is over“. It was a national nightmare. The events surrounding Watergate and the cover-up along with fingers pointing directly at President Nixon, dragged on for almost two years. Since the initial break-in at the DNC Headquaters at the Watergate Apartments in Washington D.C., it was a story that continued to grow and take precedence over just about everything else in our daily lives.
And there was a lot going on that year, but somehow we managed to be sidetracked into spending almost every evening catching up on the latest discovery, the latest admission, the latest revelation – it was all-consuming, and we weren’t feeling too good about it. We came to realize how fragile our system of government is; how easily it can be distorted and throw us off-track.
And despite all the claims that “there was nothing to see here” we kept looking. And the more we looked the more we found out. And the end result was our faith in democracy was put to the test. We had come out of the 60s when we started questioning institutions we felt weren’t giving us the honesty that was a basic principle for a free life. A war was questioned – social standards and conditions were questioned. And now, in the 1970s our government was being questioned.
Repeatedly, over the two years that led up to 1974 and the end of the Nixon Administration, we were told we were a nation of laws and not of men – but those men we entrusted were violating those laws and we found it difficult to believe anything after August, 1974. Forty-three years later, we’re on the brink of another crisis – how this one will play out is anyone’s guess, much the same as it was in 1974 when the crisis brought about by the Nixon White House and the Watergate scandal; it’s anyone’s guess. And all we have is time.
But as a reminder of how we were dealing with another crisis in another time, as well as all the other events which took place that year, here is a CBS News Documentary wrap-up of 1974.
And life goes on.