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Collective Memory / Culturally Afflicted

November 22, 1963 I was sitting in my first grade class. The telephone that hung on the wall rang and my teacher answered it.  That was back when children were taught telephone manners and when the phone rang, especially in your classroom, it was a big deal.  We all got quiet and most of my classmates put their heads together to whisper. I would have too but out of the corner of my eye I saw my teacher's face. The look of confusion and horror caught me off guard so instead of stealing a moment to whisper something silly to my friend, I watched her every move.  She slowly hung up the phone and told us in a trembling voice that we were all going home a little early because something terrible had happened. President Kennedy had been shot.

April 4, 1968 I had run home from school I hate two hours of watching television that I could get in before my parents got home. If I ran, I could catch whatever movie was playing on Channel 2 during the Dialing for Dollars show.  I got home, turned the TV on and by the time it warmed up, the news was on. Martin Luther King had been shot.

June 5, 1968 my dreams of having another Kennedy in the White House were crushed when Robert Kennedy was assassinated.. It only seemed fair to me that the country would vote for him to be president since his brother never got to finish his job. Again, it was on television and preempted what we were going to watch.

July 20, 1969  I was sitting in the back seat of my grandmother's Chrysler 300. It was white with red interior and it had a push button transmission. We had set out earlier to drive to Florida so my grandmother could visit her brother, my Uncle Nick.  We had just crossed into a Florida checkpoint and the young man working at the booth gave me a cardboard model of the lunar lander to put together. I was thoroughly disappointed that he thought I was a kid who needed toys. I wanted him to notice that I was a girl.  Later in the hotel room we watched on TV and saw people hopping around the moon. Sometimes what we saw were reenactments. I wondered what it was about adults that they could watch that over and over again. Eventually I went for a swim.

January of 1977 we were all young adults and gathered around the television watching Roots.  It was a big deal socially and culturally. It was a bigger deal to me because my current crush kissed me for the first time during a commercial break

August 16, 1977 I was sitting on the banks of the Russian River about to go for a swim. We were listening to the radio and we heard that Elvis was dead. I wondered how big a deal it was going to be historically. When rumors abounded that Elvis wasn't really dead I knew we were a country in denial and his death was bigger than I had anticipated.

January 28, 1986 I was in the dispatch center working. One of my co-workers took a call, probably from her husband, she turned around and announced to us that the Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded shortly after take-off.

September 11, 2001 I was home and in the shower preparing for work. The phone rang and my roommate answered. She yelled, "Turn on the TV, we're being bombed!" It was the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and the failed attack on the White House.  Ever since that day the first thing I do when getting up in the morning is turn on the television.  

June 25, 2009 Michael Jackson is dead.  There have been so many social media changes and advancements I thought I might run amok if I heard one more story about his death.

August 11, 2014 A newscast is interrupted to tell us that Robin Williams is dead. In stunned disbelief I looked at my Face Book account. Sure enough people have already constructed memes and made comments regarding his passing.

These are the highlights. The dates I actually remember.  There are obviously more stories. Charles Manson, Watergate, The Zodiac, Son of Sam, Oklahoma bombing.... etc.  My deaths of my parents and my sibling.  I remember them all. I still remember the Preamble to the Constitution, the Gettysburg Address and the combination of every locker from 7 grade on.

Here's my problem. I don't remember the day I was saved. I don't remember coming to faith, the day that should stand out above all others. I don't remember when I was baptized.

Clearly my priorities are askew.


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