Where America Stood, 50 Years Ago in 1960

JFK during the first televised presidential debate in 1960.
As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, CBS News takes a look at "Where America Stands." To provide some perspective for this series, we decided to look at where America stood, 50 years ago. CBSnews.com's Cali Carlin reports.

In "Eyewitness: Remember 1960," Charles Kuralt said, "How do you remember 1960? Years from now, when you tell your children about this year we're living through, what scenes will spring to your mind?"

Four African-American students were refused service at a Greensboro, NC lunch counter in February of 1960. Forty-eight years later, Democrat Barack Obama is elected the first African-American president of the United States of America.

Where America Stood, 50 Years Ago
Eyewitness: Remember 1960

March 1960, the United States announced that 3,500 American soldiers will be sent to Vietnam. The war would eventually cost more than 58,000 American lives. Forty-nine years later, President Obama orders 30,000 more U.S. troops in the war in Afghanistan.

In 1960, the U. S. population was just 180 million people. Today, it's more than 300 million.

The cost of a first class stamp in 1960? Four cents. Today, a stamp costs forty four cents.

A loaf of bread in 1960 cost twenty cents. Today, it's about two dollars and eighty cents.

The price of an ounze of gold was $37 in 1960. Today, it's more than one thousand dollars.

April 1, 1960 the United States launched the first weather satellite. Today you can pull-up a satellite image of almost any address in the world.

April 4 1960, Ben-Hur won a record eleven Oscars. It was the most expensive film of its time, budgeted at $15 million. In 2009, the 3-D film "Avatar" directed by James Cameron is estimated to cost at least a quarter billion dollars.

The Cold War got a little chillier in 1960. In May, a Soviet missile shot down an American Lockheed U2 spy plane; Soviet leader Khrushchev put the wreckage on display and demanded an apology. Today, the Cold War is over, and the Soviet Union no longer exists.

September 26, 1960, Vice President Richard Nixon and Senator John F. Kennedy participated in the first televised presidential debate, watched by an estimated 80 million people on their black and white TVs. In 2008, Senators McCain and Obama debated in the new world of multi-media. Obama announced his Vice Presidential running mate in a text message sent to millions via the internet and cell phones.

In November 1960, a then record 67 million voters went to the polls to elect next president. In a close contest, 43 year-old JFK became the youngest elected president.

In 2009 Senator Ted Kennedy, the last of the living Kennedy brothers, passed away.

Starting this week, CBS News takes an in-depth look at "Where America Stands" as we enter a new decade. Look for programming on all of our broadcasts and right here on our site.

In the meantime if we've piqued your interest in the past, you can check out the special "Eyewitness: Remember 1960" hosted by Charles Kuralt, here.