When one reaches un certain âge, the realization dawns on you that the past is measured in events; the moment you meet your true love, graduation, your child’s birth, a parent’s death.
But time is also measured by events of such great historic proportion that you can remember with clarity where you were and what you were doing. We mark time by the events of historic proportions. The events mark us with changes too.
On November 22, 1963, I was in sixth grade at Huron Junior High. We had an “honors” study hall which was about anything but studying. If you can imagine it, a group of sixth grade students were allowed to sit in a classroom alone and without supervision for the purpose of doing homework. I suppose this was considered a privilege, but, as junior high students are wont to do, we spent most of the time being noisy and silly and, I believe just before we heard the news about the President, we had been threatened with loss of privilege by a teacher who was passing by the room and recognized the sounds of “un-studying”.
I cannot recall the particulars of how we found out about the events in Dallas, but I do remember snippets of the rest of that day. It was unnaturally quiet. After that, things felt a little less safe, as if the world had made a seismic shift and we weren’t quite sure how to react. But time blurs those feelings and puts them into a back corner of our memory until the next time.
And there are so many “next times”. RFK, MLK, Newtown, Oklahoma City, and closer to home, the Boston Marathon. And September 11, 2001. On that morning, I was testing second grade reading out in a hallway. With each tragic event of that day, one of my colleagues came out to whisper what had happened. We were directed not to discuss anything in front of our students; however, given the eery quiet with which the staff went about the day, I would not be surprised to learn from former students that they knew something bad had happened that would impact their world, as the Kennedy assassination had for me.
Over the past sixteen years, we observe a moment of silence to remember the people and events of 9-11. And each year when that moment of silence is broken by the playing of taps, the magnitude of that day is with me and many others. The memory of the circumstances, the events of September 11 is renewed. May we never forget.