Childhood Memories Friday: Where Were You?

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Childhood Memories Friday

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?

8 thoughts on “Childhood Memories Friday: Where Were You?

  1. I remember walking into the cafeteria, I was a senior in high school, and having my friends inform me about the space shuttle. They were real pranksters so I didn’t believe them. I had come from my morning trade school class so I wasn’t anywhere near a tv. I spent the next hour in Government class where my teacher tortured us with watching the news and I got to see the shuttle explode over and over. Now it’s embedded into my memory…
    You know about Diana and me. 🙂 We are soul sisters in this love for her and it makes TOTAL sense to me! You know I named my daughter for her. I still miss her too…

    9/11 – I was on the phone with my sister. My Dad had died the day before and we were trying to figure out some things, who was going to call who, and I got to see the entire event unfold before me on Fox News. It was surreal. Living in the Boston-D.C. corridor was a scary thing too because we weren’t sure what was going to happen next and where.

    Another event I witnessed: The airshow crash of 1987 in Ramstein Germany (my base). 70+ people died when an Italian aircraft clipped another and careened into the crowd. Horrific day. I had been sitting right where it happened a half an hour before the crash and I told my boyfriend(now husband) I wanted to walk around because I was bored. We saw fighters fly by all the time so it wasn’t that exciting to us. After it happened we were all ordered to report to duty, to get a head count. I couldn’t get through to the U.S. on the phone for 3 days, the lines were so jammed up. My parents assumed I was dead. It was a crazy day…nothing like being there when the news happens…

  2. I remember that I was at work – on break – for Holiday Inn Reservations Center when Reagan was shot.

    I was in the kitchen / den when the shuttle exploded.

    I was home on 9/11 and my kids were at school; I wanted to go get them early, but I didn’t.

    Princess Diana – vivid memory and shocking. It seemed impossible to be true.

    This post was a great idea for Childhood Memories!

  3. When John Kennedy was elected I cried. He was Catholic and I feared for our country with a Catholic President. In l963 when he was shot in Dallas, I cried again. It was a miserable experience for all Americans to go through that death… Robert Kennedy came to Seymour and we went to see him. Not long after that, while lying in bed early in the morning, I heard on the radio that he had been shot/killed. Also I remember Martin Luther King’s killing. I sat in our small downstairs home at 520 S. Walnut rocking a baby while I watched TV news reports showing riots burning parts of large cities in America. It was a fearful time to be having children.
    I realize we now live in fearful times too, but at least, in some ways, it seems better now than in the l960s/70s.

  4. I was on the school bus headed home when I heard the news about JF Kennedy being shot. I was abt. 7 years old in November 1963.

    I saw men walk on the moon … live. It was 3 years after my mother died.

    Nixon resigned just before my first marriage in August of 1974. I had just graduated High School.

    The Challenger explosion, so sad, I was either at work or home. Husband actually witnessed it from the J Turner Butler (called simply JTB) bridge headed from Jacksonville, FL to the beach. The Cape is a little further south of said location.

    And on and on … I remember them all. Makes me feel really old. 9/11 is the most vivid since I was home recovering from carpal tunnel surgery. I thought it was a movie, at first, then hubby told me “No, it’s real.” I remember feeling very frightened …. and angry.

    Good post. Reminds me how much history I’ve actually witnessed. I still have newspapers touting space flights and such from the 1960s. Who knows what will happen in the future with all this misguided leadership in DC. [sigh] ♥ ∞

  5. I was pregnant with my first child when the Challenger exploded. I couldn’t tear myself away from the TV for days…

    9/11 happened during my first year of homeschooling. We didn’t get much school, as in book work, done for days. That was a hard time…

    I also remember when the Berlin Wall came down. It was so fascinating to see people hit it with hammers and anything else they could find. That was a good time in history. It’s so odd to have none of my children remember Germany being separate like that. When they read about it in history, they all came running to me saying, “Did you know….???”

    Excellent post. You make me think and that’s a good thing. 🙂

  6. My earliest “tragedy” memory was when Elvis died. I was in the car with my friend and her mom. It came over the radio and her mom pulled off the road and wept.

    I completely understand your love of Diana. She was a special soul and left us all way too early.

    9/11 was horrible. It hit way to home for us.

  7. I remember all of these except Pres. Kennedy, I was only 2 then. Tonight hubby and I watched the space shuttle go up from the road in front of our house and it reminded me of when the Challenger exploded, I had taken the boys out in the yard to watch it go up and they were 4 and 5 yrs. old, we were all excited, then the smoke plume started going down from the center just like a banana being peeled, then you could see orange, I knew something awful had happened and the boys didn’t understand what was going on. It was awful. I always liked Diana too, our boys were close in age, and for some reason I just felt close to her. I still have magazines that have stories about her early marriage and children being born. As for 9/11 my hubby had been very ill all summer and I finally decided I was going to have to get a job so I was out on interviews when all that happened, it was a very tough day, plus my grandad died that morning too.

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