I entered the teenage years in the sixties and I remember three particular news events, three days that impacted me and influenced my thinking about life and the world. I am a Canadian and all three events happened in the United States, yet I felt each one personally.
November 22, 1963, the day of President Kennedy assassination, rocked my world. I was a typical teenager, living in my own little sphere, going to school and listening to music. The school principal announced that Kennedy had been shot and that the school would be closing. We went home early that day. I remember how scared I felt, somehow vulnerable. I remember thinking that if a president could be killed, was I safe? Were any of us safe? My world expanded that day in November. I became aware of politics and crime and the evil influences that lurk among us. I watched the news with interest for the first time. I felt such compassion for his children. Who could ever forget Little John, John saluting his father’s coffin? We all cried with him.
The following spring, on Good Friday, there was a massive earthquake in Alaska. It seemed that the earth opened up and tried to swallow parts of the city. I lived in British Columbia and we were all told to stay away from the water because a tidal wave was coming. For a few hours we waited, our ears tuned to the news. I remember trying to imagine what a wall of water would look like. I did not see the rise of the water, but a town not too far away, Port Alberni, sustained a lot of damage, and lives were lost. This was the first natural disaster that touched me. This event opened my eyes to the power of nature. I learned that this earth we call home is fragile and volatile. I learned that disasters in one country have a global effect.
The third event that affected my thinking was the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Such an incredible event, watched around the world as the Eagle landed softly. The next day, Neil Armstrong stepped out of the lunar module and spoke the now famous words “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” The universe opened up for me that day. The vastness of space seemed incredible to this small town teenager. I felt tiny and yet part of something cosmic.
Each of the three events broadened my thinking. My world grew larger and I became part of the global interconnection we all feel. I know I became a global citizen during that time.
The war in Vietnam escalated while I was a teenager. The protests and marches of the sixties were more significant to me because my awareness of the world had expanded. It is important that we all understand that a famine in Somalia is a world problem, that a Tsunami in Japan, an earthquake in Haiti or a war in Afghanistan or Vietnam affect people wherever they live, or at least they should. We are all part of a global community and we need to step in and help when the need arises.
I believe that we all have events that influenced and shaped us and possibly changed our outlook of the world. The tragedy of 911 was another such event. I feel we are also influenced by the music we listen to. I spent a lot of time listening to folk songs, Pete Seeger, Peter Paul and Mary and Bob Dylan. What do you remember? What influenced your thinking?
(images provided by Google images)
This post is part of the Weekly Writing Challenge: I Remember, Other Posts in the challenge are:
- Weekly Writing Challenge: I remember (2far2shout.wordpress.com)
- I remember the day my son got lost: Weekly Writing Challenge (kidsrsimple.com)
- Weekly Writing Challenge: I Remember (dailypost.wordpress.com)