November 16, 1967 A week later than OTL, NASA launches Apollo-4, an unmanned mission and the first test of the massive Saturn-V rocket. It is a complete success.
November 23, 1967 President Kennedy celebrates Thanksgiving with the extended Kennedy family in Hyannisport. In an unauthorized biography published in 2006, it is claimed that he tells his younger brother Robert Kennedy not to seek the Presidency in 1968 nor accept an offer from Long for Vice President, as he is sure that Long will lose. Regardless, Bobby Kennedy makes no moves to gain the nomination from Russell Long.
December 1, 1967 NASA announces that Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee will fly the Apollo-7 mission for the first manned test of the Apollo spacecraft since the 1967 fire that killed Schirra and his team.
December 9, 1967 A photograph emerges, taken by a Canadian war correspondent, of Captain Nguyễn Văn Lém of the VietCong summarily executing the captured South Vietnamese police General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan when Saigon fell on November 25th. The prisoner was handcuffed and the VC officer clearly shoots him in the head. World-wide outrage at the atrocity erupts. The United Nations passes a resolution condemning the new government.
December 25, 1967 The Kennedy family celebrate Christmas in Washington, DC. "Jan-Jan" lights the tree on the White House Lawn, along with brother John and older sister Caroline. Two days later, a Gallup poll is released, showing President Kennedy's job approval down to 45%. Analysis of the poll points directly to the fall of South Vietnam as the cause.
January 23, 1968 Captain Lloyd M. Bucher of the USS "Pueblo" is informed of a North Korean assassination attempt on South Korean President Park Chung Hee and maneuvers his ship another five miles into international waters. North Korean vessels spot it from a distance, but do not give chase.
January 24, 1968 "HOBO 28", a B-52G Stratofortress makes a successful emergency landing at Thule AFB in Greenland, after a cabin fire breaks out. The plane, its crew, and its nuclear weapon payload survive, but Secretary of Defense McNamara recommends an end to the "Operation: Chrome Dome" continual alert flights of the B-52s that had been ongoing. ((NOTE: In OTL, "HOBO 28" crashs and the conventional explosives of its thermonuclear weapons explode, spreading radioactivity across the area near Thule. It is often noted as one of the worst nuclear accidents in history; now, almost forgotten.))
January 31, 1968 President Kennedy orders the closing of the US Embassy in Saigon. The Hanoi Government declared on January 22nd that it would no longer recognize it and demanded that the US set up its embassy in the "national capital, not a provincial capital". Kennedy of course refused, but Dean Rusk said there was no point in keeping the Saigon embassy open since the "official government" refused to recognize it. Within months, Hanoi had seized the building and plans to use it for a "War of Liberation" Museum were put in place.
February 1, 1968 Richard M. Nixon announces his candidacy for President of the United States in New Hampshire. At one stop he notes "must prevent failures like that in Vietnam" but adds "we must help people in the free world fight against aggression, but not do their fighting for them." Polling shows him slightly behind Vice President Russell Long, 54-39%.
March 12, 1968 Vice President Long wins in the New Hampshire primary, facing only Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota and George McGovern of South Dakota.
Richard Nixon wins a strong victory in New Hampshire, defeating Nelson Rockefeller handily by 65% (slightly less than OTL). In the weeks that follow, Ronald Reagan would emerge as another challenger to Nixon, but the still weak nature of the conservative wing (since Goldwater's defeat) and Reagan's lack of experience seem to work against him in the ATL as well.
March 20, 1968 The US Congress in a very close vote, votes to repeal the Gold Standard.
April 5, 1968 At 6:02pm, James Earl Ray shoots Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. A slight twisting of Dr. King at the last moment, results in the single .30 bullet striking him in the right shoulder above the clavicle. King falls to the ground and aides cover his body and try to stem the bleeding. He is rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital. By 8:30pm, he is declared to be in critical but stable condition, the bullet removed and the blood loss being replenished.
Meanwhile Ray has fled the scene and begins his escape. On June 8th, he arrives in Rhodesia. British officials fail to note his 2nd passport at Heathrow Airport, but the CIA eventually tracks down Ray's final destination. The State Department contacts Ian Smith's government in Salisbury and Rhodesian police arrest Ray. Despite his hope for sanctuary from the white apartheid government, the Rhodesians extradite Ray back to Tennessee. He admits his guilt (hoping that Governor George Wallace would become President and pardon him) and is sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Dr. King remains in the hospital for several weeks. On June 5th, he is released to home rest and recuperation. He releases a public statement forgiving his assassin (as yet unknown) and asking for calm and non-violence in return for the attempt on his life.
April 11, 1968 Apollo-6 is launched, as the last unmanned Apollo test. As in OTL, it is a success, with even problems with "pogo'ing" and engine failures, which occurred, allowed for fixing for later manned missions.
April 13, 1968 As one of the last major bits of his domestic agenda, President Kennedy signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (aka the "Fair Housing Act"). At the signing ceremony, Kennedy hands one of the signing pens to A.D. King, Martin Luther King Jr.'s younger brother, to give to the hospitalized civil rights leader.
April 30, 1968 James Rado and Gerome Ragni's controversial musical "Love" opens on Broadway. Though much "tamer" and naturally with no mentions of a "Vietnam War", it is roughly equivalent to OTL's "Hair". The show is a weak success and runs a few weeks, unlike a more successful run off-Broadway. Without the Vietnam War, the "counter-culture" fails to fully emerge. "Free love" still exists as does an fashion and hairstyle fad similar to OTL's "hippies", but it is much less pronounced. It more accurately resembles the "punk" movement or the present "Goth culture". Known, but not hugely popular.
June 9, 1968 Attending a campaign rally for Alan Cranston US Senatorial bid, Robert F. Kennedy is shot and killed by a Palestinian immigrant named Sirhan Sirhan, while shaking hands with a crowd in Los Angeles. Five shots are fired, with three hitting Kennedy in the chest, one in the upper abdomen, and one fired wildly into the air. His FBI bodyguard and two others wrestle Sirhan to the ground. Though only a .22 caliber weapon, the bullets to the chest puncture both lungs and the upper aorta. Kennedy dies within minutes.
Later theorists point to a newspaper clipping Sirhan had of a RFK interview offering support of Israel and pointing to the day of the assassination being the one year anniversary of the signing of the Six Day War ceasefire. Ten months later, he would be convicted and sentenced to death. The death sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1972.
On June 14, after lying in state at St. Patrick's Cathedral for a few days, a mass requiem is held. President Kennedy, as well as brother Ted, speak eulogies. National mourning occurs, as many saw Bobby as a likely Presidential candidate or as Russell Long's Vice President.
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