My buddy Steve out in California responded the other day with a remark about a significant historical event being 47 years ago. I looked around the office. I was the only one even born that long ago, much less able to remember what was a defining event for my generation.
In my definition, a key historical event is one that has a major impact on current events – and one important enough to me that I will always remember where I was and what I was doing when I learned about it.
I will give you my list – followed by Steve’s List. What is on yours?
- 1. Nov 22, 1963, Kennedy’s Assassination. I was in Mr Kaufman’s civics class. He came into class in tears. There was an announcement over the Intercom. Most of us didn’t have a clue other than something dreadful had happened. We were dismissed early. Not an easy feat when you are discussing hundreds of students bused in to a consolidated Junior High.
- 2. The Challenger Disaster. Jan 28, 1986. I was in the data center at WRAIR trying to put together the stats from an injury study I was running at Ft Campbell. The computer tech and I just looked at each other, stopped all work and hung next to the radio for hours.
- 3. The Fall of the Berlin Wall – 9 Nov 1989. I was stationed with the 10th MEDLAB in Landstuhl, living in Kaiserslautern. The news had been full of the coming changes, the streets filled with people. Not having a TV, it was radio coverage for me. My memories are more intense of Thanksgiving weekend, spent in Berlin with friends after making the trip on the duty train. Sitting on the balcony of their apartment over looking the wall. Seeing people streaming through, climbing over the wall and smashing at it with hammers. Ms Soprano was not even a year old, but started walking that weekend as well, taking her first steps in the city which had been divided for decades.
- 4. The Iraq invasion of Kuwait – 2 August 1990. I was sitting in the operations center at Enkenbach – the regional Politzei HQ monitoring the med support for Operation Lindwurm. We watched it on TV, listening to the live German coverage. I was on orders for 10th Mountain Division and wondering what was going to happen next to my new unit of assignment.
- 5. The terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93, 11 Sept 2001. Working at ERMC HQ – my office mate Paula received a call from her husband. After that, we watched the TV stunned for the rest of the afternoon. At home, I was glued to the TV for the rest of the day and most of those following.
That is my list – those outside events which will always stay with me.
This is Steve’s list – written on 22 Nov
When I opened up my calendar this morning and saw November 22nd, I immediately flashed back to my Public Speaking class in the eighth grade forty-seven years ago. Dr. Moore, our principal, came over the PA system to announce that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. I remember the classroom, two of my friends who sat near me, Miss Moran, our teacher, like it was yesterday.
I remember the events but not the dates of the Challenger disaster and the destruction of the Berlin
Wall. November 22nd and September 11th stand out.
There are four more historic events I recall, as well, three of them related to my birthplace:
the day we got the first Salk vaccines in school (first grade) in Pittsburgh;
the day the very long United Steelworkers’ strike ended (5th grade);
the day the Pirates won the seventh game of the 1960 World Series over the Yankees (sixth grade); and the day of Alan Sheppard’s Mercury rocket ride into space (7th grade).
What key world events and dates influenced you, changed your life?
(and if you are blogger – go for it – we are right before the US Thanksgiving Holiday. Reflection goes well with Thanks.)