Mindlessly scrolling through Yahoo News (a time suck, I know), I came across a headline titled “Caroline Kennedy’s first grandchild’s name revealed.” It stopped me cold and aged me a lifetime all at once. I still picture Caroline as that sweet little girl at her father’s grave site in 1963, two days before her seventh birthday.
A moment that precipitated that image is forever etched into my memory. I was sitting in my third-grade classroom at McKinley School in San Francisco. Our teacher, Mrs. Johnson, whom I recall being about the same age I am now, was in front of the class at the blackboard when we heard a soft knock at the classroom door.
The door opened and our principal motioned for Mrs. Johnson to step out into the hallway. The room was quiet. Mrs. Johnson returned a few minutes later, just as a couple of the rambunctious kids were beginning to get restless.
Clearly upset, she reached for a tissue on her desk. “Our president has been shot,” she said, her voice trembling.
My memory of that day is so clear, still. How is that so many years could have passed since then?
I’ve been thinking about the major events that have occurred during our lifetimes, particularly during our formative years and how they shaped our thoughts, our plans, our futures. We remember exactly where we were when those key events began to unfold.
John F. Kennedy’s assassination was one of the historic events that defined the generation of Baby Boomers along with the moon landing and the Vietnam War. Remember the odd/even day gas rationing of the 1970s?
Gen Xers will remember the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the Gulf War. Millennials will never forget the attacks of September 11. Neither will the rest of us.
Our younger generations are marked by more than their share of impactful, ongoing events including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate crisis and the war on Ukraine.
It’s not the passage of time I should be worried about. It’s the future.