Monday, February 22, 2016

Where Were You?

When Kennedy was shot? November 22, 1963
I wasn't born yet. My own mother was only 14 years old.

When Elvis died? August 16, 1977
This I do remember. I was staying at my grandmother's, and she was trying to get me to try sour cream on my baked potato, but I was wary of any dairy product that actually admitted to being 'sour', since that was obviously a bad thing. While trying to keep rotten cream off my potato, it came on the tv that Elvis had died.

The eruption of Mount St Helens- May 18, 1980This was the age when I really started noticing things on the news. Footage of the eruption, triggered by an earthquake, was caught on film, and was replayed for days. My science teacher discontinued our regular lesson and devoted all class time to the discussion of Mount St. Helens.

When the Iran Hostages came home? January 21, 1981

66 Americans were held hostage for 444 days- Nov 4 1979 to Jan 20, 1981.

My parents said that "Ronald Reagan brought the hostages home.", since they were released minutes after he was sworn in. One of my teachers suggested that Reagan somehow bribed Iran to hold on to the hostages and not release them until he was sworn in so that it would look like he was responsible for their release. What I remember most- Yellow Ribbons galore!
The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster- January 28, 1986
It was a snow day, so I was home from school, and ironing my clothes. As I ironed, I watched the launch of the space shuttle mainly because there was a teacher, Christa McAuliffe, on board as part of a "Teachers in Space" program. As I watched the space shuttle break apart, "Obviously a major malfunction", the iron was forgotten, and my shirt burned. To this day, the smell of scorched fabric reminds me of the space shuttle Challenger disaster.

The fall of the Berlin Wall- November 9, 1989
This was watched, beginning to end, on MTV. Yeah, MTV.
Everything I knew about the Berlin Wall up to that point I'd learned from the 1985 movie Gotcha!.

Oklahoma City Bombing-
April 19, 1995
I saw this on the news, and what I most remember is a yellow Ryder truck, and a firefighter carrying a dying baby. What struck me most was a photo of a hand-painted sign attached to a chain-link fence that read, "We Forgive You" less than a week after the attack. I wasn't so ready to forgive, and wondered about people who were so eager to forgive such a terrible act.

When Princess Diana died- August 31, 1997

I was in a restaurant with my in-laws in Weston, WV, and my mother-in-law leaned over the table and said, "Did you hear that Princess Diana was in a car wreck?"
Thinking it was a joke, I leaned forward to hear the punchline, "No, what happened?"
"She died."
Some punchline!
Then someone left W.H. Auden's poem "Funeral Blues" (which I knew from the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral) on the impromptu memorial, and a newscaster read it on the air, and no one fact-checked to learn it was not original. Instead, they read it over and over, and lamented that they may never know the wonderful poet who had written it. Idiots, the lot of them.

Columbine High School Massacre- April 20, 1999

This one was the hardest to take. My regular tv show was interrupted to bring the breaking story of a couple kids with guns going into the school and shooting teachers and students.
I watched the story in horror, and later when Ron got home, I left the kids with him and went to the grocery store as I had planned earlier. I didn't realize how much the story impacted me until I found myself standing in the soup aisle crying my eyes out.
These days, people hardly take notice when there is yet another school shooting, but that first one hit us hard.

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