Monday, November 22, 2010

Fading History

I almost understand how my parents felt about the blank stares they got when talking about significant historical events that happened in their lifetimes. Their reference points were often centered on events relating to World War II … the Pearl Harbor bombing, Hiroshima and President Franklin Roosevelt’s death. They would talk about those things sometimes and I would listen but it meant nothing to me. Even after studying about those events, I only knew them as something from history.

Every American alive on September 11, 2001 will remember and talk about the terrorist attacks of that day and the weeks of fear that followed. Those in their 20s that day will be telling their children and grandchildren forty or fifty years from now about how citizens felt but those grandchildren will likely react with respectful blank stares.

So some readers of this post will look at their monitors with blank stares when I remind them/you that today, November 22nd, is a significant day in American history. Those of us who were alive that day might remember every detail … where they were when they heard the news (I was in elementary school), how their parents reacted (mine were shocked and sad), how TV and radio covered the developing story (wall-to-wall coverage replaced normal programming on every channel and rumors were flying).

That specific November 22nd resulted in collective American fear and shock similar to 9/11 but only one person had died. The thought that our country was under some kind of attack is common to both dates, but the 9/11 attack was obviously an orchestrated, multi-person plot; to this day, there is still uncertainty as to whether the November 22nd event was the act of a group or one man.

I have made peace with the reality that November 22, 1963 is just a date in a history book or web site for most people I know, but even though I was very young then, I still remember in great detail the day U. S. President John Kennedy was assassinated.

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