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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Once Upon a Time

Theme Thursday - History

Looking back over my life so far, I realize that six events have had a profound effect on me. It is one thing to read about long-ago history in a text but quite another to live it, watch it unfold as it  moves  into the archives.

  • The Cuban Missile Crisis
     I was a college freshman, away from home for the first time. As this news was breaking, I spent much time on the phone with my parents. Should I come home? Should I stay in Berkeley? I was young, scared, and wondering if the world was going to end.


The assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy

The despair of dreams ripped apart was overpowering and stays with me still. What could have been? We'll never know.

Neil Armstrong's Moon

The moment did not seem real to me. I felt like I was watching a science fiction film; but what an amazing accomplishment.

And more...

The Explosion of the Challenger

I got news of this disaster as I stood outside my classroom, greeting my 4th graders in the cheerful sunlight of a typical California morning. A parent of one of my pupils came rushing up to me and whispered, "Did you hear...?" I hadn't. I turned into a statue, total stone inside my gut, wondering what to say to my young students, beginning the school day as we did every morning...with current events. Ohmygod.

Drinking my morning coffee as I watched the Today show, I could not comprehend what I was seeing. Like eveyone else, I at first thought it was an horrific accident. Speculation was rampant. Driving to school to begin my teaching day, some newsperson was glibly rattling on about rumors the Golden Gate Bridge was the next target. I was numb and just went about my day because I didn't know what else to do.

The Election of Barack Obama
 Tears poured down my face as, glued to the TV, I watched the election results. When I awoke the next morning, I was afraid I had dreamed the whole thing, but it was true; and I was a witness to a huge happening, one that I never thought I would see in my lifetime.

These events are forever etched in my memory. I  remember exactly where I was, what I was doing, and what I was thinking. The missile crisis, the assassinations, the Challenger disaster, and 9/11 caused me to feel fear, grief, and profound horror.  With Armstrong's moon walk and Obama's election, I experienced joy, hope, disbelief, and amazement.

 Incredible Moments
forever carved into my soul
The future? How about a woman president?

I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.
-Patrick Henry


  1. Wonderful post. I remember every single one of those events myself. I actually worked at the Kennedy Space Center when they took those first steps on the moon. Talk about thrilling...

  2. interesting look at a few events that shaped all of our lives...i still remember watching the shuttle explode sitting in science class...history is being written every day...happy tt!

  3. I so enjoyed this post. And I share your memories of those events - they all left a big impression on me as well. In 100 or 500 years time will we (or rather those who follow) still see these as the key events in the history of the last sixty years? Theme Thursday greetings to you.

  4. Well those are pretty big happenings indeed. Hopefully you have some more personal and happy memories like graduating, getting your first teaching job, birth of children or marriage that help to bring some joy to counter all the shocking events of your life.


  5. Great post. The first three I missed, but the next three are part of my past, too. And hell yeah, we need to get a woman in there. As long as she is qualified!

  6. I share the Challenger and 9/11 tragedies. Oddly enough, another that sticks in my mind is the death of Aaliyah... I've no idea why, as I never really listened to her music. I think it was the way the radio DJ spoke of the incident as I rode in the back of a taxi in South Korea.

    Very strange.

  7. I remember all these as well. I especially remember Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon. But equally moving to me were the first photos from Apollo 8, those amazing "Earthrise" shots of the Moon's horizon. That's still an archetypal image in my life; I've even used it in my hand-made Tarot deck for the World card.

    And when it was sure that Barack Obama had been elected President, my entire neighborhood emptied into the street, and we had us a party!

    Great history post!

  8. I like this take on the theme. I was watching the Challenger live on tv...horrific! And 9-11. You are do shape our lives and effect us forever!

  9. We just watched "Thirteen Days" this week, and were reminded of just how terrifyingly close we came to WWIII with the Cuban Missle Crisis. I remember all of these events quite well.

  10. I was a bit young for some of these events, though they certainly shaped and influenced life afterward. Thanks for sharing these.

  11. I remember the Challenger exploding so well. So sad. And then 9-11--first I heard of it was on radio about missile hitting the pentagon! I didn't even know of the towers yet and started crying almost uncontrollably. I also remember when both Elvis and Lennon died but especially when Diana was killed in that crash as far as celebs go.

    Yes, and Maggie Thatcher was certainly brilliant anyway..and that was how long ago now? I will never forget it. If only all Prime-ministers had been as brave and tough! :)


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