I have been deep in thought and melancholy with memories since watching the Inauguration and subsequent festivities the other day. It was this historic event (on so many levels) that sent me reeling through a time warp of my life in an overwhelming mind-slide show of the other historic events I have witnessed...
I remember getting our first TV.... the world came int the living room, a little grainy in black and white, but it is how I first remember "News".... history, now.
I have a vague memory of Eisenhower, the Rosenbergs, and Rosa Parks on TV, but clearer memories of Mickey Mouse Club and Superman. Jonas Salk gave us the Polio vaccine, not soon enough for my cousin Cindy, though. We tried to see Sputnik fly over outside late at night. That ushered in the Space Age, and we all watched the rockets take off, and held our breath until the astronauts came back through the atmosphere without burning up, and cheered when they were picked up... bobbing in the middle of the ocean in that little capsule.
Things began to change in the sixties. We were changing. We began to discover a communal voice. We were so smart, so sophisticated, so wise in the ways of the world.
I remember the flag being lowered outside my Latin class window, and the Principal announcing the death of JFK over the PA system. We were excused from classes, sent home to be with our families to grieve as a nation as we watched the funeral on television. There were other assassinations... RFK, MLK, Indira Gandhi, John Lennon. And attempted assassinations... Regan, John Paul. The Apollo astronauts were killed in the rocket. Elvis died. Janis Joplin, Mama Cass, Jim Morrison too.
Vietnam took my friends away after high school, some came home, some didn't.... some were never the same again. Woodstock and Bob Dylan and the Beatles and Betty Friedan changed even more of us.
Civil Rights and Activism and Marijuana and LSD became a focus. There were wars in Israel and Vietnam and riots in Watts. Students just like us were killed at Kent State. Watergate reinforced our mistrust of the government. The Olympic games in Munich were ruined when the Israeli athletes were murdered. Roe v. Wade was a bright spot for Feminists and we burned our bras. Nixon told us he wasn't a crook.
We put a label on HIV/AIDS, and were very afraid. There were hostage crises, and spy plane problems, oil spills in Prince William Sound, and tanks in Tienoman Square.
I remember the day the Challenger exploded in midair, and again we watched it over and over again, but there was a difference..... we were not the kids in bobby socks anymore. Emotionally, we had hardened, become cold. The Gulf War, Waco, Rwanda, Bosnia, and the first attack of the World Trade Center, and the OK City bombing were all met with less feeling or outcry than OJ and his low speed white Bronco chase.
There have been more wars, countries have come and gone, the Berlin Wall was torn down. There have been witnesses to Moon walks and mad cows, Jonestown, Hale Bop, The Y2K scare, tsunami waves, earthquakes, volcanoes, and now global warming.
We gathered again as families when the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were attacked. It was like before, we were vulnerable once more. There was another shift in our direction, we began to turn back to an old memory of who we were.
We have been searching for something, we carry a remnant of the untarnished children we were when we searched the night sky in awe looking for Sputnik. We want to believe and hope and feel we have a voice again. I think the inauguration and all it's pageantry has allowed us to believe that perhaps, as a result of this historic event, we will reclaim what we have lost .
I need to ponder on what all this means to me..... does it just reflect my years? Is there a message in this bottle? I think I am a little wiser, possibly more cynical, and I eat dessert first. I value Life, and I treasure my memories; the good and the bad; and look forward to the next chapter.... with hope and faith.