June 25, 1876 — Custer is defeated and killed at Little Big Horn

General George Armstrong Custer went into battle at Little Big Horn under a number of false impressions.

He was under the impression that he would be facing no more than 800 Native Americans, rather than more than twice that number – Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse had recruited assiduously, knowing that a battle was coming. He was under the impression that his major challenge would be preventing the escape of the enemy forces, rather than defeating them. And finally, he was under the impression, based on these assumptions, that the force under the command of his subordinate Major Reno would be far more effective in battle than it proved.

But with Reno’s forces isolated and routed, Custer’s forces were outnumbered and surrendered. More than 200 men in Custer’s army, including Custer himself, were killed.

Charles Marion Russell - The Custer Fight (1903).jpg
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As mentioned in:

Custer — Johnny Cash
General Custer — Swan
Jim Bridger — Johnny Horton
Little Big Horn — Running Wild
I Love America — Alice Cooper
Custer Had It Coming — Redbone
The Punch Line — The Minutemen
Custer Song — Buffy Sainte-Marie
Custer Died A-Runnin’ — David Wilkie
I Ain’t Marching Anymore — Phil Ochs
Some Fool Made A Soldier Of Me — The Kingston Trio
Please Mister Custer, I Don’t Wanna Go — Larry Verne
History is Made By Stupid People — The Arrogant Worms

November 22, 1963 — U.S. President John F Kennedy is assassinated

One of the defining events of its era, the assassination of President Kennedy remains a remarkably controversial one, even today. Conspiracy theories abound as to who shot Kennedy and why.

While the official story, that Lee Harvey Oswald did it, with the rifle, in the book depository, is plausible, it is also notably incomplete – there are any number of holes and anomalies in it. The murder of Oswald only two days later, before he could stand trial, has done nothing to quell these uncertainties.

On a symbolic level, the death of Kennedy was the end of an era in many ways. Quite aside from the idealism that he brought to the nation, his death marked a change in the way America saw itself – no longer the lily-white paladin, but more the grim avenger willing do the dirty work no one else would – although in fairness, this change of self-image would take the rest of the decade to be complete.