December 7th, 1941, a date that my parents and grandparents all remembered, where they were, and what they were doing when they heard the news from Pearl Harbor. A milestone in history. 1,000 year’s from now war historians will remember that date, school children may encounter it on an exam.
From time to time I think if the historical milestones of my life.
The earliest would likely be July 1969 and the first human landing on the moon. I was not quite 11 years old, living on the farm in Michigan. I remember the landing, and late that night the first moon-walk. I was allowed to stay up very late - way beyond my bedtime until we LEM door was closed. I have vague memories of the orbital flights leading up to Apollo 11. I remember the pad fire early in the Apollo program. There are several more space related memories. I slept through the last Saturn V launch, we were in Florida, the launch was delayed into the night. I watched the launch of the Apollo 1b launch for the Apollo Soyuz mission from right across the river. I was in High School across the river from the Kennedy Space Center. They didn’t close the school, but they didn’t take roll until an hour after the launch that morning. I was standing on the river front for the first space shuttle launch. I saw several shuttle launches and one landing. I was working in Orlando when the shuttle Columbia exploded, I was talking to a client on the phone who was watching the launch from his office window and said, “that doesn't look right.”
I remember that Bush-1 bombed Baghdad on a Wednesday night in January 1991, I flew to Amsterdam on Friday night of that week on a nearly empty 747 - a lot of people didn't think it was a good time to fly. The flight coming back 9 days later was packed with US embassy staff being called home for safety.
On September 11, 2001, I had finished one workshop in Lexington, Kentucky and was getting ready for the second one when news broke of the terrorists attacks. The second show went on, but it was different from anything I have ever done.
I was in Frankfort Kentucky for cabinet meetings when the Concorde crashed in Paris. We had adjourned for lunch, I was trying to find a parking space at McDonald s when news came over the radio. I was fascinated by the Concorde, I saw the nearly simultaneous landing of two of them in Orlando for the opening of EPCOT (one from Air France one from British Airways.) I wasn't at EPCOT for opening day, but I had been there two weeks before - the park was open for a couple of weeks by invitation only to employees and their families (my middle brother has worked for Disney since the late 70’s.) It was great fun, the paint was still wet, the World of Energy shut down because of a software glitch in the middle of the dinosaurs and they let us walk out a side door. I didn't seize an opportunity to ride on the Concorde in time. Sad that we seem to have given up on faster and larger air transport.
Back to Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor was a pilgrimage that my parents made, the events there so shaped their coming of age. I have twice visited Normandy to understand the D-Day beaches, my parent’s and grandparent’s WWII experienced shaped them, and by understanding that time in history I better understand them. (And it helps that I love France and the French.) In February I will see Pearl Harbor - I suspect that it will help me to further understand the history of the last 100 years.