Remembering Where We Are on Great Days in History

No doubt, all of us who remember the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center Towers, know exactly where we were when we first learned the news. I was in my cardiologist’s office when I heard a nurse say that someone had just told her that a plane a flown into one of the towers.   I immediately called my late wife Melba and told her she would probably want to turn on the TV to see what was going on. She did.  When I got home, all TV networks and the cable  news channel were live with wall-to-wall coverage.

That’s the way it is with truly unforgettable historical events that happen during our lifetime. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on a sunny Sunday afternoon on December 7th, 1941, dragging us into World War II, the CBS bulletin came over our floor model  Zenith radio.  I don’t think I was actually listening to the radio because at age eleven I wasn’t much interested in The World Today , CBS’s 2:30 Sunday newscast or the live 3:00 broadcast of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, but my father, I remember, almost never missed the symphony.  He would sleep through most of it, but that Sunday he didn’t.  When word swept through our upstairs home at 1109 1/2 5th Avenue in downtown Columbus,  all the talk turned to the attack.

Shortly after the bulletin was aired, I went outside the play on that nice sunny December afternoon . I headed for my buddy Carlton Bussey’s house. I remember basically what I told him.  It was something like this: “This means we are going to war. A lot of people will be killed.”  He agreed.

I was at home having lunch on Celia Drive when the bulletin came on the air that President Kennedy had  been shot.  He had been shot in Dallas, Texas at 1:30 p.m.. EST on November 22, 1963. We weren’t watching the TV, but it was on and we heard the bulletin, went into the den and watched Walter Cronkite tell us what he knew.  My immediate emotion was anger.  I assumed, incorrectly, that it was probably the work of some racist fanatic.  They hated him for his federal enforcement of Southern college desegregation.  Instead it started looking as though he was assassinated by a communist sympathizer since Lee Harvey Oswald had been to both Cuba and the Soviet Union. For a lot of people, including me, who was really behind that assassination is still a mystery. Cuba looked like a prime suspect to me since our CIA reportedly tried to assassinate Castro.   

To be honest  I don’t remember  where I was when President Roosevelt died at Warm Springs on April 12, 1944, probably in class at Columbus Junior High School, because that’s where I was in April of 1944.  I do remember where I was on V-E Day when Germany surrendered. I was a doorman at the Bradley Theater.  It was the only time that I remember that  we actually stopped the showing of a movie. We put a slide on the screen saying we were connecting with WRBL for a news bulletin.  The bulletin announced that  Germany had surrendered unconditionally.  The audience applauded and cheered, and most promptly got up and left the theater.  Mill  whistles started blowing, and car horns blasted away as bumper-t0-bumper cars circled Broadway. There were torn up newspapers all over the sidewalks, which was the closest thing people could get to tossing up confetti.

All of those events were world-changing, including, of course, 9-11.  More on that tomorrow,  9-11’s tenth anniversary.

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