The World Watches

Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Big Day.

All eyes will be on Washington DC today. Schools are cutting class time to tune in. Different countries are devoting hours of airtime. And my boss even announced we'll have a television set up in our break room to sneak an occasional peek at the activities taking place. It's a huge day indeed.

I'm young enough I've only lived through four presidential inaugurations in my lifetime, but I don't think it matters how old a person is, I can still tell you this one is is getting the most hype by far. I bet the first woman president won't even grasp this much of a stir when she steps into office. I wonder, though, if today will make a "where were you" moments in history.

I can remember clearly where I was on 9/11 when I heard about the twin towers attack. My college campus. I hadn't even been married two months. I walked into my computer applications class, where the professor had the TV turned on. Smoke and fire covered the screen and announcers were talking so avidly no one made a whole lot of sense. I turned to a fellow classmate next to me, a complete stranger, and asked what had happened. "Haven't you heard?" he said and went on to spill it all. The professor, a native Irish woman, was too distraught to teach and dismissed class before it even began. So, I phoned my hubby on the cell, woke him up because he'd just finished his night shift, and told him I was coming home and to turn on the television. I remember thinking this is big. This is really big.

I remember I was in high school shop class (hoping I could learn to make a wooden roll-top desk for my mother, which I never did) when I heard about the Oklahoma City bombing. The teacher turned on the television and that's the first moment I saw the soot-covered fireman carrying a bloody baby (That's the picture that won a Pulitzer).

I was in junior high for the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill Supreme Court Hearing. Our social studies teacher let us watch a little, but not enough to hear all the gory, suggestive things Hill accused Thomas of saying to her.

It was night time and I sat in my living room at home with a couple of my brothers, one sister, and my dad watching O.J.'s white bronco flee the parade of police when he was accused of killing his wife.

And I vaguely remember one of my older brothers bursting into my sister and my room to announce George Bush Sr. had just declared the Desert Storm war a go. The was the first war Americans had fought in since I was born (at least it was the first I remember being declared). It gave me a scare, I'll tell you what. I heard the word war and instantly pictured WWI, WWII, Vietnam. I wasn't sure what to think of such a huge declaration.

I love hearing my mother tell stories of where she was at certain points in history. She was sitting at the kitchen table in a different house she lives in now, though she was serving lunch to the probably some of the same family members, when the news broke into her regularly-scheduled soap opera show, "As the World Turns," to announce that JFK had been assassinated. That was way before my time, but I can picture my parents and older siblings' expressions perfectly as they watched the news that day. It was definitely a major change in history.

So... where are you going to be when this date in history takes place? How will you remember? Or is this just another day for you?

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