Throughout our lives, significant moments in history are imprinted on our minds. We can remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when momentous events took place.
This summer, the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s landing on the moon has been much in the news. Many of us can remember where we were July 20, 1969, when we watched Commander Neil Armstrong leave the space module and step onto the moon, saying, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
That landing isn’t imprinted on my mind, but a later one is, when I watched a lunar landing in school at Wilkesboro Elementary, with my classmates. My husband, Drew, says he distinctly remembers watching the first lunar landing on television with his family in New Jersey.
I’ve enjoyed watching the clips of Walter Cronkite’s commentary on PBS recently. Even though I knew the outcome, the drama of the lift-off, landing and recovery was intense. Fifty years later, it’s still an amazing achievement.
My mother, Rebecca Hubbard, says she can distinctly remember where she was when she first heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. She was with her father and older sisters on the way to visit her mother and new baby sister in the hospital in Charlotte. Newsboys on the hospital grounds were “hawking newspapers,” holding up papers and shouting, “Extra, Extra, Read All About It! Pearl Harbor bombed.”
Most of us will never forget where we were when 9/11 happened. That date is etched in our memories. Prior to Sept. 11, 2001, the date was just another day on the calendar.
I was here at the newspaper and went into my father’s office to take him something. He was watching the television in his office. The first plane attacked, and we were confused. Then, we watched with horror as the second plane went into the twin towers. Many of the newspaper’s employees crowded into the small office to watch the news unfold. Our phones here at the newspaper lit up as the public and employees’ family members called in about the attacks.
Drew says he will never forget how blue the sky was that day, because of the absence of air travel. Planes across the country were grounded. My in-laws from New Jersey have told me smoke was visible from their homes, which are about 25 miles from New York City.
School was let out early and after school activities were cancelled. The nation and world gathered around their televisions in shock and disbelief.
Many people remember where they were Nov. 22, 1963, the date John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, and April 4, 1968, the date of Martin Luther King’s assassination in Memphis, Tenn. I remember watching President Kennedy’s funeral with my mother on our black and white television and the flag-covered casket which was pulled by horses.
Oddly, I also remember where I was when I first heard Elvis Presley had died. It was my senior year of high school and I heard a broadcast about his death on the radio, just before band practice on Aug. 16, 1977. Following Presley’s death, chaos ensued in Memphis as throngs of people filled the streets.
Our “memory banks” are full of these significant dates.