April 4th, 2007

pacific torus vedic echoes

Nostalgia du jour

I was listening to the local radio station today on my way to work. Mel Walsh was interviewing fellow author Marjorie Hart about her new book on the summer of 1945.

One of the things that came up in passing in their conversation was the events of V-J Day -- it was one of those Historic Moments that everyone remembers, the sort that years later people can tell you exactly where they were when they heard the news.

(Pearl Harbor was another one of these. I recall my father telling me of how a policeman pulled over the car he was riding in on Dec. 7, 1941 ... just to tell them that the U.S. had been attacked.)

Mel opined that the announcement of the Japanese surrender was, for the generation that came of age in the 1940s, their "JFK was shot" moment. Which got me thinking about modern era landmarks.

I'm not old enough to have been around for JFK. But there are three national news moments in my lifetime that stand out in relief:

  • The Challenger explosion. I was in my fifth-grade classroom. The principal came into the room in tears. We stopped and watched TV. I think there was an assembly shortly afterward, and I think they cancelled the rest of the school day, but it was that first moment that seared itself into my mind.
  • The OJ Simpson criminal verdict. I was in college, taking a fencing PE class. The instructor had sent me off to the school's second gym to retrieve some equipment. Everyone was clustered around the TVs there (there were none in the gym we were using). I hustled back to class with the equipment and the news; when I got there, word had already spread ahead of me. Someone else had heard it on the radio and informed the class.
  • 9/11. As a West Coaster, I first heard about it at 7 am on the bus on my way to work. When I got there, everyone was clustered around the one Internet-capable machine trying to find out more, but news web sites were overloaded and unreachable. I helped my coworkers confirm it by finding this Slashdot thread. We were in a downtown Seattle high rise, and they very quickly sent us home -- nobody was certain how many more buildings would be targets that day.
Now I'm wondering -- were there any truly historic, galvanizing moments after JFK? There must have been some in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, but I can't think of any really epic ones other than 9/11. Certainly nothing on the order of a presidential assassination or a World War victory comes to mind.