Where Were You?

Last week I shared my memories of the days surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.  This week, I have asked family members to help me out by sharing their memories of other modern historical events.   The family members who were kind enough join me in sharing memories are my mom, my cousins Mary and Sue, and my niece Alyssa. 
In my early years of researching my family history, I tried to better understand my ancestors’ lives by considering the historical events during their lives.  However, I found that it wasn’t really meaningful to me because I had no idea how these events directly affected my ancestors or their feelings about these events.  Hopefully, this blog will survive the current generations of my family be meaningful to future generations of our family.

Victory over Japan Day (V-J Day), August 15, 1945
My mom shared the following memories of V-J Day:

When Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945, I can remember hearing all the church bells ringing.  We lived on Bedford Street in Fairfax, Ohio at the time.  I was only nine years old, so I don’t have too many memories.  I do recall thinking that my brothers Clarence (who fought in France) and Edward (who fought in the Philippines) would soon be coming home.  They were both part of what is now called “The Greatest Generation.”  V-J Day is celebrated in the United States on September 2, because that is when the surrender ceremony was held.
World War II Memorial, Washington, DC

The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, November 22, 1963
My mom remembers:

On the afternoon of November 22, 1963, I was sitting at my desk at Mead Board Sales in Oakley, Ohio, where I worked as Secretary to the Sales Manager. 
It was like any other day until my sister, Helen, called and told me that President Kennedy had been shot.  I was in a state of shock, since nothing like this had ever happened in my lifetime.  
My cousin Sue recalls:

I had graduated from high school that year and was working at Inner Ocean Life Insurance Company in Cincinnati.  We had music that played all the time with no breaks.  The day President Kennedy was assassinated, they broke in and said he had been shot.  I will not forget the shock that went through that office.  Everyone was crying, even the men.  We were all glued to the radio and the TV later when we got home.  It was a very sad time for our country.
Eternal Flame, John F. Kennedy Gravesite, Arlington National Cemetery

First Moonwalk, July 20, 1969
My mom shared her thoughts on the first moonwalk:

When I was a child, I can remember looking at the moon and thinking that it seemed like it had a face.  I was told “that’s the man in the moon.”  Little did I know that 25 to 30 years later I would actually see men walking on the moon.
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were those men.  I am in awe of those amazing men and their journey into space and walk on the moon.  They did something I could not even comprehend.  When I hear the words Neil Armstrong uttered, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” it’s still hard to believe that it happened in my lifetime.

Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster, January 28, 1986
I had an off day from work on January 28, 1986 and was glad.  I had a stomach virus and was able to spend the day in bed.  The television in my room was tuned to Good Morning America.  I watched the now-famous footage of the Space Shuttle Challenger crew, including Christa McAuliffe who was to be the first teacher in space, walking to board the shuttle.  I then dozed off.

When I awoke less than an hour later, I saw video of a plume of smoke and learned that the space shuttle had broken apart a few seconds after liftoff.  I was feeling sick to my stomach, but it wasn’t only from the stomach virus.  It was a horrible day.
Challenger Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery

The September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks
My niece Alyssa remembers:

I was sitting in my first grade class where my teacher was reading us a story when our principal walked quickly into our classroom and said to our teacher, “Turn on the television.” Our teacher quickly walked over to the television and on the screen was the image of a tall tower with a great amount of smoke around it. Our teacher just stood there in a shocked awe. Our class then proceeded to talk amongst ourselves, about what, I cannot remember. A few minutes later, our principal announced on the PA system that we were all to be sent home. As I was walking home with my mother, she told me “A bunch of bad men did some bad things and killed a lot of people.” A few years later, I found a journal of mine from that time. It said “Mom said that some bad guys hit towers and killed a bunch of people.”
My cousin Mary recollects:

On the morning of September 11, 2001 I was at work at the PromiseLand Church in Austin, Texas. Someone came running to my office to let me know what was going on. We have a Television Studio just down the hall from where my office was at the time, so all of us were standing, watching on the large television screen with utter disbelief at what we were witnessing. We cried together and could not do anything but continue to watch and saw so much more than any heart can understand. The total destruction of the Twin Towers, and the other two crashes that took place on that dreadful day. Today, September 11, 2011, we remember that horrible tragedy even after 10 years past. It is a day that all of us will never soon forget.
Sue remembers:

I turned on the TV that morning and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  All the years of feeling safe and comfortable changed in just a few minutes.  Our country was under attack.  My husband and I had already purchased tickets for a trip to Hawaii in the beginning of October.  I wanted to cancel, but my husband said “no,” we were going. 
We had been to Hawaii several years before, but the trip that followed 9/11 was a totally different experience.  The first time we were there, it was crowded everywhere we went.  On this trip, we walked on the beach at Waikiki all alone.  We went to Pearl Harbor and this time you couldn’t take a purse or diaper bag.  Every place we went had security.  We stayed for three weeks.  Two of those weeks we stayed in a cabin owned by the military.  It was beautiful, but I remember being on the beach with one other woman.  It made me very aware that everything had changed.  I was not really comfortable being away from home at the time and can remember being very scared to fly.  I was so happy to get back home. 

Many thanks to my mom, Mary, Sue, and Alyssa for sharing their memories.   I would like to encourage everyone to record memories and impressions of the historical events that occurred during their lifetime.   Future generations of your family will appreciate it.


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