Posts Tagged ‘Clark Gable’

Every generation has its own life-altering moment.  I imagine it was the day Pearl Harbor was attacked for my mother and father.  December 7, 1941, “…a day which will live in infamy.”   President Roosevelt delivered his famous Infamy speech the next day and the world turned upside down.  Within weeks, thousands of young men, my Dad included, showed up at the various military induction centers.  He chose the Navy and for him the war was in the Pacific ocean.  America switched gears and literally went from producing butter to guns.  I wish my Dad or Mom were still alive so I could ask them the generational question, Where were you when….?

President interviewed by Walter Cronkite. Pres...

President interviewed by Walter Cronkite. President Kennedy ( close-up ). Hyannisport, MA, Squaw Island. – NARA – 194259 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During my youth, of course I was well aware of the Pearl Harbor attack.  Not only was I a child of a veteran, I also grew up watching the plethora of war movies that were made in those post-war years.  I remember Robert Mitchum. Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney, Gregory Peck and Burt Lancaster.  We grew up with Ding Dong School, Fall Out Shelters, Elvis Presley, the fear of Communism, the Cold War and the Beatles.  When did my world stop and gasp and change?  The day President Kennedy was shot.  50 years ago today, I was a sophomore in high school.  The loud speakers of the intercom system rang out with a few long beeps to get everyone’s attention.  Then we heard those horrible, insidious words; “The President has been shot.”   Screams of  ” Oh No, Oh God” resounded through the halls.  Who would do such a thing?  Yes we knew that a president could be assassinated, after all history had taught us about President Abraham Lincoln.  But that was then and this is now and our beloved President had been shot and might die.  We were the kids who did the sit-ups, the jumping jacks and the dreaded push-ups, all part of President Kennedy’s Physical Fitness Program.  He was our hero, the First Lady was beautiful and life in the early 60’s was good.  School was immediately dismissed and we all scurried home to our moms (who of course were home) and spent the rest of day crying and watching Walter Cronkite.  Church bells rang, flags were lowered to half staff and we cried, our mothers cried and when Dad came home, his jaw tightly set, he cried.


And then along came our children, the future Generation X and Y.  My son was just a toddler when the Vietnam War was played  out night after night on the television but it didn’t really affect his life – his father was not going to war. These kids were living a life their grandparents only dreamed of in terms of the quality of life, the enormous strides in technology bringing them further and further into the 20th Century.  They were students of Sesame Street; I had loved Mickey Mouse, they loved Big Bird.  My son went to a private high school, my daughter played soccer and tennis, they spent summers at the country club pool.  But they also had turmoil and trouble and this time it was really close to home.   The divorce rate in America skyrocketed and for the first time in America, thousands and thousands of the next generation were being raised in single parent households.  I cried when John Lennon died, they cried when Michael Jackson died.  By the time this group of young people reached their 30’s, their Where were you when moment hit and hit them hard.  


911 happened and their world turned upside down.  Of the over 2500 people killed that day, more than half of them were part of Gen X and Gen Y.  So many of the young warriors of Wall St. perished in their day of infamy.  All of sudden, the world that they grew up in which was so safe and secure transformed into a world where you couldn’t get on an airplane with your bottle of shampoo or your cuticle scissors.  Armed soldiers roamed through Grand Central Station and police stood on the subway platforms.  Now, going to a museum or the theater meant having your briefcase or handbag examined before you can enter.  


So Where Were You When 911 took place?



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