Post contains affiliate links.
I always wished I had been alive when JFK was assassinated. It was such a seminal event in our country’s history. Alas, I missed it by about a year.
But, I have been around for other big events. Where were you when these things happened? Here’s what I remember of them:
July 20, 1969: Man walks on the moon.
I would have been 4, so my memories are fuzzy, but I remember my parents brought a little black and white TV into my bedroom so I could see it. Probably the novelty of a TV in my room was more exciting to me than the man on the moon!
The Vietnam War – you know, I lived through this entire thing and have no memory of it whatsoever. It was another event that was supposed to have left a major mark on our country, so I’m not sure how it totally missed my radar.
August 9, 1974: Nixon resigns as President.
This is a clear memory — a chapter in my memoir recounts it. As Republicans, our family liked Nixon. I remember it being a sad evening when we sat down to watch him resign. Wanting to commemorate the occasion, I cut a piece of fabric (with pinking shears to make it fancy!) and embroidered a fish in the center (not sure what significance that had). I planned to embroider “President Nixon, August 9, 1974”, but apparently he didn’t speak long enough, because all I got done was the fish and the “Pres”. I wish I could find that thing – I’m sure it’s still around somewhere.
January 28, 1986: Challenger Space Shuttle explodes.
I was walking into a large lecture class at Indiana University. It was a class on handling your personal finances or something to that effect – now I smile; I could have taught that class! I found a friend I usually sat by, and she asked if I had heard that the space shuttle exploded. No, I hadn’t – but it was shocking. There had been a lot of media attention about the shuttle because it contained the “first teacher in space.”
August 31, 1997: Princess Diana dies in a car accident.
Boy oh boy, do I remember this one. Since Diana first came on the scene back in the early ’80s, she was my hero? idol? Those both sound odd, but suffice it to say I really liked her. Despite my teacher’s reservations, I wrote my senior paper about her. I had boxes and boxes of Diana memorabilia, visited several haunts of hers in England, heck – even my engagement ring is a (admittedly much smaller) copy of hers.
I was a total expert on Diana. One evening my Aunt Elaine called and asked if I had seen that Diana had been in an accident. I turned on the TV and it stayed on throughout the various reports … she was slightly injured, she had broken her arm, … she was dead.
I couldn’t believe it. She had been such a larger-than-life figure, and just like that – she was no more. Various friends called to see if I was alright; I was that much a fan. I was sad that my kids (my oldest daughter was just 3 months old at the time) would grow up in a world without Diana (yeah, I know, that sounds kind of lame, but that’s how I felt). For years afterwards, I would wonder when I would next hear a story about Diana, and then I would remember that she had died. It was just surreal.
September 11, 2001: Terrorist Attacks on America
I’ve written before that I was at a MOPS (moms of preschoolers) meeting when this happened. The leader began the meeting by standing up and saying we should start with prayer “under the circumstances” – huh? Did I miss something? She then said we might want to make calls “since some people are saying they may freeze all the banks”. I went to check on my girls in the nurseries. The workers all had TV’s on and someone said that Camp David had been hit, and rumors were that the White House had been, also.
It was all a very odd, vertigo-inducing moment. What was real? What wasn’t? It was like being inserted into an action movie, but the special effects were all too real.
What big events have you lived through? Where were you when they happened?