I have heard people from older generations talk about where they were when important historical events took place. It is as though one needs those anchors to be able to assure themselves they exist. If one has no answer for the question "Where were you when...?" they obviously lived under a rock. I've heard people discuss where they were when JFK was shot, where they were when Martin Luther King spoke, where they were when Vietnam war was declared, where they were when Watergate broke.
I had not thought of myself in that way -- as compared to current events in recent history -- but when I started to consider it, I could pin point the places I was during important events.
When the Gulf War started, I was in Grade 9. I sat in art class with my home room and used charcoal pencils on paper. I was learning about shading and depth. I was also rocking out to Ice Ice Baby which someone had playing on the radio. The teacher came into the room, turned off the radio and turned on the television. We all sat and watched as they announced the war. I remember being surprised that war was necessary. For some reason, I thought the war had been won in WWII and that would be it. You know, like, forever. I remember not thinking much about it again as I made my way through high school. I had my own battles to fight -- acne, unpopularity, depression -- and they were more overwhelming to me than oil, evil, and dictatorship.
However, that event is not often the thing our generation cling to when we play the "Where were you when" game. Our question is about 9-11. Where were you when 9-11 happened? That is the question that grounds our generation.
I was house sitting for my boss that day. I had to work at 9:30am, so I was awake long before I normally would have been. I did not like the solitariness of the house and so I turned on the television. To the news. People who know me, know I do not watch the news. I find life depressing enough. But there it was, the news and I watched. Just in time to see the second plane hit.
I sat down on the floor in front of the television and stared in disbelief. The cat who belonged in the house came to see what I was doing. She sat beside me and looked in the direction of the TV without comprehension. So did I. I drove to work, listening to the radio for information rather than music for the first time ever. That day, we sat and watched the television coverage for hours. It seemed to never end.
It changed us, that day. Suddenly we knew the world was not the place we thought it was
And now, it amazes us when someone is too young to remember or cannot recall where they were that fateful day. I wonder if that is how the other generation felt when people stopped using JFK as an anchor point. Like the youth had lost an important learning experience and cannot possibly know what the world is really about. And somehow, disappointed that they too will have to learn.