What! How Long Ago Was That? (tf)

I’m trying to remember what I remember.

Those days when everybody says “I remember what I was doing when….”

I remember Nixon resigning. I was only 8 years old but I remember everybody suddenly hated this guy’s guts over something called “Watergate”. I had no idea what “Watergate” was or meant but it certainly seemed to piss everybody off. Ford of course became our next President but I don’t remember anything at all about him except Chevy Chase falling down stairs on Saturday Night Live. Ford wasn’t very memorable.

I remember hearing that John Lennon had died. I heard it while watching Monday Night Football. I think Howard Cosell broke the news. I can’t remember crying….but I distinctly recall feeling that guys in the Beatles weren’t supposed to die. They weren’t like the rest of us. For the next few days I just listened to my Beatle records over and over again and watched people on TV singing and holding candles. “Give Peace a Chance”, “Imagine”, and “All You Need is Love”. It was like a jukebox with 3 songs. It seemed time stood still for a while. Nobody knew what to say. My sister attended a memorial service at Nay Aug Park and got into a serious car accident on the way home. The roads were horrendous with snow and ice but nobody was thinking about the roads. Folks just wanted to go someplace where they didn’t have to cry alone. Nobody truly realized how much the man’s music was ingrained in our collective consciousness, and everybody just kinda froze like today’s computers tend to do…..and needed to be rebooted. It was the first time I can remember feeling violated.

I remember Reagan getting shot. The night after the shooting was the NCAA Championship….Indiana and Isiah Thomas beat North Carolina and my favorite player at the time, Al Wood. There was debate whether the game should have been played at all. All the weirdness started coming out about the shooter. Hinckley. His Jodie Foster fixation. Somehow the shooting of the President was meant to impress Jodie Foster. Something about the movie “Taxi Driver”. Nobody was quite sure of anything other than Hinckley was batshit crazy. The TV showed the clip of the shooting over and over. Reagan waving and then suddenly being pushed into the car. That DC cop caught in the middle. And Press Secretary James Brady lying on the sidewalk with blood coming out of his head. The reason the scene never reached JFK-like proportions was because Reagan survived. Death is what makes such scenes truly iconic. Today it’s a flicker. But no more than that for most.

9/11 was death. I was at work. My sister called me with the news. I panicked. I ran to the office next door for information. It was sketchy. Then I remembered that the CD player in my office had a radio. I turned on NPR. I listened to them say one tower “fell”. And then the other. I heard the word “fell” but it didn’t register. It wasn’t until I got home that night and saw the collapse on TV that I realized what had happened. Words hadn’t been enough. Sometimes they’re never going to be.

The end result, of course, was war. War on TV. Live on TV. Like a football game. The bombs lighting up the Baghdad sky. Reporters doing the play-by-play. Sometimes even cheering. I was home. The TV was on a shelf in my office and I stood up to get closer to it. I stayed standing for hours.

How long ago was that?

–Tom Flannery

~ by admin on March 3, 2011.

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