Today is the 54th anniversary of the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Aldous Huxley, and C.S. Lewis. As I point out to my friends, with what they no doubt consider disturbing regularity, everybody dies sometime. But of course, not every death carries generational heft. Kennedy’s did for my parents’ generation — Dad was 20, Mom 19, and I wouldn’t be born for another 22 months.
I don’t know that I’m an expert on the “where were you” moments for my generation, because I have an unusual memory and might include stuff others my age wouldn’t. But I suppose my “safe list” might include Apollo 11, John Lennon’s death, Challenger, and 9/11. Some — not all — of my students remember the last, and within a couple of years, I’ll be teaching kids for whom the World Trade Center will be what JFK was for me. Ou sont les neiges and all that.
But while I wasn’t around for the JFK assassination, it gave me the chance for this. On 22 Nov 1998, I was at my folks’ house, chatting with Dad. I said, “Do you remember what you were doing 30 years ago today?”
He started telling me about the assassination. I let him finish, and said, “Well that’s nice, but that was thirty-five years ago. I asked what you were doing thirty years ago. You know, the day the White Album was released.”
Dad looked at me. “Asshole,” he said. It still makes me smile.
I hope your day is a memorable one for good reasons.