Great Depression

29 Oct 1929 -- 07 Dec 1941

Aside from times of war, the Great Depression was perhaps the darkest chapter in 20th century American history. It profoundly affected our nation and culture in ways not seen since. The economic collapse was not the only consequence of this era. Social structures were strained, long kept traditions were tested, millions of individuals and families were displaced and for a time the very survival of the nation and the world was in doubt.

World War II

11 Mar 1938 -- 02 Sep 1945

Sparked and fueled by dreams of unlimited power and world domination, World War II was the deadliest and costliest conflict in the history of the world. Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Hideki Tojo became symbols of evil incarnate, their names forever associated with death and destruction. From Hitler's invasion of Austria and Czechoslovakia in March 1938 to the signing of the Japanese surrender in September 1945, the war claimed more than 70 million lives and changed the face of the world forever.

New York Worlds Fair 1939

30 Apr 1939 -- 27 Oct 1940

In 1935, a group of retired police officers in New York decided that perhaps one way to kickstart the American spirit and perhaps hasten the end of our economic woes would be to organize an international exposition dedicated to the vision of a prosperous future. Over the next three years, excitement grew as a World of the Future rose, like a phoenix, from the ashes of the past. Around the world, nations signed on to provide pavillions to showcase their unique cultures and traditions. Companies like Ford and Westinghouse spent millions of dollars to build innovative and technologically advances attractions. The Fair organizers, believing that the exposition should have some historical connection, decided to dedicate the event to George Washington and chose the occasion of the 150th anniversary of his inauguration as president for opening day.

The Cold War

08 May 1945 -- 26 Dec 1991

In spite of deep ideological differences and the need to defeat Hitler and the Axis nations, The United States and the Soviet Union were allies during World War II. After the defeat of Germany, it was hoped that the nations conquered by Hitler would return to democratic rule. However, the Soviet Union moved quickly to dominate the eastern European states and establish tightly controlled Communist regimes across the region. As a result, the two post-war superpowers and their allies became embroiled in a protracted war of words, intimidation and brinkmanship, which endured until the dissolution of the USSR in late 1991.

The Vietnam War

01 Nov 1955 -- 02 Jul 1976

By the end of the 19th century, the region now occupied by Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos as under French colonial rule. During World War II, French Indochina was occupied by Japanese forces. After the Japanese surrender, the French hoped to regain control over the territory, but opposition by local ethnic and political interests, the Soviet Union and China resulted in the proclamation of competing governments by 1954. Communist backed forces gained the upper hand in the northern sector of Vietnam while anti-Communist factors claimed control of the South. Beginning that year, the United States gradually increased its involvement in the conflict. Following a massive escalation in late 1964, there were more than 500,000 American troops in Vietnam. The US was allied with the anti-Communist government of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and the southern based National Liberation Front (Viet Cong). American involvement ceased following the signing of the Vietnam Peace Pact in January 1973, but offensive action by Communist forces resumed soon thereafter. The South Vietnamese capital of Saigon fell in April 1975, leading to a Communist takeover of the entire country. Vietnam was reunified under a Communist government in July 1976.

The Space Age

04 Oct 1957 -- 31 Dec 1969

On 4 October 1957, history entered a new age with the launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1. This achievement was followed by a rapid increase in space technology, leading to the development of communication and observation satellites, manned and unmanned spaceflight and interplanetary and interstellar probes.

John F. Kennedy Assassination

22 Nov 1963 -- 25 Nov 1963

On 22 November 1963, President John F Kennedy was assassinated, allegedly by Lee Harvey Oswald, while riding in a motorcade through Dealy Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Governor John Connolly of Texas was also seriously wounded. Two days later, the suspected assassin was shot by Dallas night club owner Jack Ruby in a basement parking garage at police headquarters. Oswald died at Parkland Memorial Hospital soon after the shooting.