Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My List of Iconic Events

We were having dinner last night when my daughter and her boyfriend started talking about 9/11. We wound up doing a moment of silence at the dinner table for the victims, but it struck me that 9/11 may be the iconic event for their generation. It’s the moment in time that most any teenager or adult for that matter not only remembers but can tell you what they were doing when the news broke.

I have a lot to say about Petreaus, Crocker, and the proposed troop reduction that isn’t a troop reduction at all, but other than mentioning that it’s like borrowing a hundred bucks, paying it back, and then claiming that you’re now a hundred dollars ahead of where you were nine months and three days ago as opposed to four days ago, I’d rather take the time to talk about it later in the week when I have more time.

So here’s my list of iconic news events in my lifetime.

1) 9/11 I was in Chicago at a grocery store. I thought the woman at the grocery store was talking about a rumor.

2) JFK assassination. I was in school. The teacher announced the news then sent us outside for 10 minutes to “digest” the event.

3) Moon Landing My parents went to play golf. I was home alone and watched it on a black and white television.

4) Fall of Berlin Wall Read about it the day after and saw clips of it on television

5) Tienanmien Square watched news accounts on television, but don’t remember where I was.

6) Nixon Resignation I was at a party at a sailing club in Westport, Connecticut in the midst of driving across America for the first time. The 19 year old hostess brought along a small black and white television so we could watch the speech between glasses of wine.

7) Bush v. Gore I was at home watching the returns well past midnight. I mostly remember being really confused about the Florida call suddenly being reversed and not making sense of all the explanations. One thing I didn’t do was check the tallies on the Internet even though I was already in the custom of checking the net constantly.

8) Beatles on Ed Sullivan I was in my cousins’ living room. I couldn’t figure out what the big deal was and their hair didn’t seem all that long to me. The guys were wearing dinner jackets or something like it or was that the Dave Clark 5?

9) Nelson Mandela released from prison read about it in Time Magazine.

10) Katrina followed photos and clips on the Internet from my office. I sent a hundred dollars to some charity organization and for whatever reason learned Michael Browne’s name.

10 t) Cuban Missile crisis, I remember looking at the air raid shelter provisions in my grandparents’ basement and wondering what it would be like to have to live off all that canned food for more than a month. I do remember seeing the Russian ships turn back on television.

There have probably been several important events that didn’t make my list for various reasons that were far more significant than the items on my list. There are things like the mapping of the human genome, the sale of the first personal computers, the Tsunami in the Pacific that killed hundreds of thousands of people, but they didn’t have the same “impact” of being a day where the world seemed to change. Some events that are critically important in our lives don’t necessarily have a single moment/event that sticks out.

As I look at my list a couple thing stick out. I experienced most of them through television in some form. Even the JFK assassination, I have more tv memories than non tv memories, particularly the Jack Ruby part because we were home from school for a couple days. The second trend seems to be that except for the moon landing, the Berlin Wall, and the Beatles, the rest are all catastrophic. That may just be part of “if it bleeds it leads”, but we do live in scary times. Finally, I’m very light on “international” events.

I’m sure if I thought about it some more, I’d have a different list. I wonder what new items will appear on the list in the next twenty five years or so, assuming that I last that long. So which events did I miss? I do notice that most of the 1980’s and 1990’s are missing. Events like the Iranian hostage crisis just seemed to recede for whatever reason. A lot of them come from my childhood and then the last seven or eight years. Is it me or are those two stretches genuinely different?



At 9/21/2007 03:10:00 AM, Blogger benny06 said...

Glad you are back!

At 9/21/2007 06:52:00 AM, Blogger Charles Lambert said...

Interesting list. I'll be thinking about doing something similar over the next few days. In the meantime, how about something a little more frivolous. I've just been tagged by the English writer Elizabeth Baines to write eight random facts about myself on my blog (as though I didn't do that all the time). Now I have to tag people in my turn and I've tagged you. You can get the info from my blog. You don't need to do it, but it would be fun if you did...

At 9/21/2007 07:51:00 AM, Blogger Cup said...

My first vivid memory is the President Kennedy assassination. I was four, so I didn't grasp the enormity of what was going on. I just remember my mother crying a lot and seeing this parade over and over on TV.

At 9/23/2007 09:03:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Thanks Benny.

Charles, I'll give the tag list a shot some time soon.

JFK's assasination is clearly the big marker for baby boomers. I sometimes suspect that it has a lot to do with the fact that I always seem to assume that something bad might happen.


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