Sunday, September 14, 2003

Where were you...?

On 9/11, it occurred to me that people of my generation have now lived through two moments when our nation was completely defined by a tragedy--the earlier moment being the day President Kennedy was shot. For young people, it might be hard to understand how profoundly the country was affected by Kennedy's assassination. After all, that was the loss of only one life versus the thousands who were killed in the WTC disaster.

I was 8 when Kennedy was shot....3rd grade. I remember the nuns crying. (I obviously attended a Catholic school.) But it wasn't just the Catholics who were upset by the loss. The entire country was sort of in shock, from what I remember.

There have been so many terrible (and sometimes weird) things that transpired in the almost 40 years between Kennedy's assassination and 9/11, but it still seems to me that that day in November 1963 is still a profound memory to those who experienced it. Which makes me wonder...why? Why was that more profound than Martin Luther King's assassination or Vietnam or Watergate or Iran-Contra or any number of tragedies and scandals our country has seen? For people of a certain age, why is it still such a vivid memory when someone asks, "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?"


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