Between the Fall of Saigon and the U.S. bicentennial, the atmosphere in our country could perhaps have been described as both cautiously optimistic and somewhat cynical as we began our high school years. So we were ready to be entertained in 1977, when the blockbuster film Star Wars made its premiere. (How many of you remember standing in line to buy tickets?)
Our graduation year brought several momentous news events. The Three Mile Island nuclear accident – the country’s most significant nuclear accident to date — took place in Pennsylvania. (Oddly, the film The China Syndrome, which deals with safety hazards at a nuclear power plant, premiered just 12 days before the real-life event.) And the Iran hostage crisis began when 52 Americans were taken hostage after an invasion of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
But the news wasn’t all bad in 1979. Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and Israel’s Menachem Begin signed their historic peace treaty in Washington, DC. And Margaret Thatcher became the first woman to be elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
In the pop culture world, 1979 brought us the Sony Walkman (revolutionizing the world of portable music), Atari’s Asteroids, and the McDonald’s Happy Meal. On the small screen, The Dukes of Hazzard, The Facts of Life, and ESPN’s SportsCenter all made their debuts. And popular movies opening in 1979 included Apocalypse Now, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Alien, and The Muppet Movie.