Monday, February 09, 2009

The Where Were You When Meme

I've been seeing this around, at Inside the Philosophy Factory, New Kid on the Hallway, and Anastasia's place.

1.) Challenger space shuttle exploded (1986): I was working at a mutual fund company, taking orders over the phone, and one of the other order clerks in the big room with me was on the phone with a broker who was watching out his window, so we heard third hand pretty darned quick. I remember later being amazed by Richard Feynman's argument about the o-ring problem as a cause.

2.) Berlin Wall falls down (1989): (November) I barely noticed. The world had pretty much crashed down (or tried) a month earlier, and I was still dealing. I was also doing a semester of observation in a composition classroom as part of my certificate program, so I had a lot on my mind.

3.) Oklahoma City federal building bombing (1995): I remember driving home, hoping that people in the US wouldn't jump to conclusions and start attacking Muslims (or presumed Muslims). I was also finishing up my dissertation, so I wasn't paying much attention other than that.

4.) OJ Verdict (1995): Did I mention that I was finishing my dissertation in 1995?

5.) Princess Diana dies (1997): I was pulling an all nighter grading, and CNN was on, so they started reporting it in the middle of the night and I was grading and watching. I never really got why she was so important to people who never even met her. I still don't.

6.) Columbine massacre (1999): I'm obviously totally self-centered. I was in the midst of finishing up at one job, moving (twice in two months), and getting ready to go to a new city and job. (And the word "massacre" seems so wrong for these murders. I think of "massacre" as more genocidal, I guess.)

7.) JFK Jr. Plane crash (1999): My dad died the next morning, so I don't think I even noticed the news in any real way. Some guy I never met died, and my Dad died. I know which had more of my attention.

8.) Bush/Gore crazy election (2000): Pure frustration.

9.) September 11, (2001): When I woke up in the morning, NPR was reporting that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, but it sounded like an accident. So I went to work, and was teaching. When I finished teaching my class, I went back to the department where someone had pulled an old TV into the break room, and people were gathered around. We watched the rest, pretty much in collective horror. Then when I went to teach my next class, everyone knew and we pretty much talked about our reactions.

10.) Space ship Columbia disintegrates (2003): This one didn't impact me hugely. I don't know what I was busy on.

11.) Hurricane Katrina hits (2005): This one was big. I know some people in the area, and I was really worried about them. I found out they were okay, so I was hugely relieved for them, but really stressed about the difficulties in getting people out, and then thinking about the levees and the wetlands and such.

Okay, so they should have started this with JFK's assassination. I actually don't remember that, but my first real memory is watching the funeral, specifically watching JFK, Jr. saluting, and my Mom explaining that his dad had been our president and had been killed, so he was sad. I was pretty little, but it made an impact on me. At the time, my Dad was vice-president of a small family business, and having no sense of scale, I worried for a while that my Dad would be shot, too.

The Native American occupation of Alcatraz should be there. Very important at the time, at least from my tiny point of view. Oddly, I don't remember any of the moon shots at all.

They should also have put the end of the Vietnam conflict in this. I remember that being so big and important. It was important to my family. Also Nixon's resignation. Oh, yeah, that was BIG!

The other public events that impacted me were the assassinations of John Lennon (1980), George Moscone, and Harvey Milk (November 1978). The assassination of Leo Ryan at the Jonestown massacre (900 plus people makes a massacre in my mind, I guess, November 1978) should be there. I can remember exactly where I was when I read about these in the morning papers. (That November of 1978 was pretty overwhelming and scary.)


  1. Anonymous9:36 PM

    even without going earlier, the tsunami could have been on there. december 26th, 2004. I remember was my daughter's first christmas.

  2. Definitely the tsumani! I like that you added others - it's interesting to see which particular events marked people the most.

  3. Wonderful meme. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Gosh, I too remember where I was when the Jonestown stuff came out. It was very scary. The other thing that would make sense in there (for those of us who are obviously somewhat older than whoever made up this list) was the Iranian hostage crisis -- since I was in the UK doing dissertation research, I don't remember the beginning, but when there was the abortive rescue mission, the archivists were so shocked that they (for the first time, though I'd been working in the archives for over 6 months) invited me to have coffee with them and said "What were they thinking?" to which my answer was, I don't know!

  5. (this is another Susan!) For some reason, I remember where I was when I heard that we had invaded Grenada and when we bombed Libya, and also (on my birthday) when the first Iraq war started. The JFK Jr. plane crash? I remember it, but it didn't seem like such a personal thing.

    I do like your additions list.