JayG has a post about the Challenger disaster. I was only 3.5 years old, so I didn't understand the significance at the time, and therefore don't have a specific memory. This got me thinking about what defining events I do remember.
On September 11, 2001, I got an IM from high school friend Matt K. telling me to turn on the TV, a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. He'd been drunk IMing me all sorts of inane blather recently, so I assumed he was still drunk from the night before or something. Eventually his sober seeming command of the English language convinced me he was serious. I went down and turned on the TV in my campus apartment in time to see the second plane hit.
I went to my first class of the day, and Professor Selkow tried to go on and teach but most of the class's brains were elsewhere. (Selkow's brain was elsewhere all the time.) Classes were cancelled at noon and the staff set up a few big TVs in the campus center for people to watch the news.
A group of us went to Newbury Comics to pick up They Might Be Giants' album Mink Car which was released that day. I guess it was an attempt to preserve some sense of normalcy. An Ellis Paul concert that evening that I had been looking forward to was postponed. When it was rescheduled in January, Paul's guitar sported its now trademark "Anti-Terror Machine" (a reference to Paul's idol Woody Guthrie).
The other event I can place is the beginning of Desert Storm on January 16th, 1991. (I had to look up the date, but I remembered it was a Wednesday in January.) I was at choir practice at church. Dr Lutz (our pastor) came in and interrupted our practice to tell us that they had just started bombing Iraq.
It's interesting that so many of our moments like this are negative. The biggest one for my parents generation was the JFK assassination. JayG is between my parents and me, and his was the Challenger disaster. Mine (though it applies just as much to Jay and my parents) was 9/11/01. Going back to my grandparents generation, it was Pearl Harbor.
Will I ever have a a positive moment like this? My parents generation had the Apollo 11 landing. My mom heard it on the radio, as she was on a camping trip. I'm not sure what the positive moment could possibly be for me. Hopefully I'll get one someday.
4 hours ago