I’m guessing even the youngest of our more than 300,000 readers remembers where he or she was during the biggest events of the past 15 or 20 years, like Princess Diana’s death in 1997, the first Iraq war, and, of course, 9/11.
But you have to boast a couple of wrinkles to remember the seminal events of the past 50-plus years. People of my generation can recall at least their parents’ reactions to key moments like the Cuban missile crisis or the Suez Canal crisis. But we were plenty old enough to have our own reactions to Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, man’s first moon walk, Woodstock, the daily Vietnam body count on TV, the Kent State shootings, and Watergate. My generation also recalls the odd twists of the Patty Hearst kidnapping, the mass suicide at Jonestown, Three Mile Island, the Iran hostage crisis, John Lennon’s death, the shuttle Challenger disaster, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
But for a lot of boomers like myself, the moment we recall most vividly is the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 22, 1963: the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
And how Baltimore remembers that—or doesn’t—is the topic of a 50th-anniversary feature in this issue in which we ask prominent Baltimoreans, as well as our own twentysomething senior editor Jess Blumberg, to reflect on what the tragedy means to our country and to them.
Where was I? I was 13, in the eighth grade at St. Leo’s School in Little Italy. At the time, I was playing basketball in the “big” playground, as we called it, where the Little Italy Lodge is now. I remember Sister Louise Mary rushed outside to tell us that John Kennedy (America’s first Catholic president, mind you) had been shot. We were all dumbfounded, like deer caught in the headlights. Then, on Sunday, while I was working the spaghetti dinner in the school hall, someone ran in to tell us that Jack Ruby had shot Lee Harvey Oswald in front of everyone on TV.
It was a shocking time, especially when you consider that the nation was a little less sophisticated and a little less hardened to violence and depravity than the media has made us today.
And, yes, there’s no question, I just made myself feel a little older.