The students started one of the largest youth movements in the United States where they finally stood up against the “establishment” and broke their parents’ expectations of conformity. This counter-culture represented one of the most vocal groups of the anti-war movement against the Vietnam War, despite its small percentage. Their parents looked down on their newfound attitude that welcomed rock n’ roll, pre-marital sex, and drugs amongst other controversies. Current events included upheaval over social and civil rights, and looming nuclear threats from the Soviet Union. Their parents pushed for tradition in the form of religion, marriage, and the patriotic duty of fighting for ones’ country. Youths responded in protest by organizing marches and burning draft cards, which caused a chain reaction among campuses. Student attitudes and ideals conflicted with their parents’, due to the natural tendency to rebel and other events that marked the sixties, which caused them to question authority much more than their parents did.
While it is completely normal for the youth generation to rebel, it seemed as though the coming-of-age baby boomer generation had a lot more to rebel about. Throughout the sixties and into the seventies, “the issues of the student protest movements range from racial discriminations, the war on poverty, and the war in Vietnam, to particular policies of the universities.” Student protests against the Vietnam War was fueled in part by the desire to be independent from obligation. “Obligation,” as in the obligation to go to war just because the government said so, the obligation to do what their parents did, and the obligation to not question authority. Many students—and many Americans in general—were unsure about why the United States was even involved in Vietnam, so it makes sense that they were reluctant to support the war. James Haskins states:
Faced with such a war that really was not a war, in which American soil was in absolutely no danger, and which did not personally affect the lives of the majority of Americans, many young men began to question seriously whether or not they were willing to risk their lives to fight in it.
The students’ resistance to obligation differed from the previous generation’s compromises, conformity, and experience with war.
The era after World War Two was a time of conformity, prosperity, and a blind eye from social issues, which eventually transformed into the “Stormy Sixties.” The attitude contrast between baby boomers and their parents only made the parents disapprove of their children’s rebellion even more. And knowing youths, when an authority figure disapproves of an action, it just makes them want to continue rebelling even more. An example of the (younger) baby boomers parents’ opposing experience is given:
The emergence of such a movement in the 1960s is particularly striking. The ten previous years—despite out-breaks of campus destruction—were notable mainly as a period of...