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Collective Memories: Pearl Harbor Day and more

For each generation certain days are cemented into our collective memory. For my grandfather's generation, it was the day Pearl Harbor was attacked. It was the first time blood had been shed on American soil since the Civil War, 70 years ago today. I encourage you to sit down with an elderly person and ask them to share their memory of that day.

These memories are fading away as we lose our seniors. The only way to keep them alive is through stories, passed from generation to generation.

My children were in the womb when the World Trade Center was attacked. I've told them about that Tuesday morning, sitting at my desk, watching horror unfold.

I was in sophomore chemistry class when I heard about the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion.

My parents were teenagers when President Kennedy was killed in Dallas.

My grandfathers were young men when Japanese airplanes attacked the Naval base in Hawaii, and America was pulled reluctantly into war. Both men served in the military during World War II.

These collective memories serve as a timeline for our families, our country, and indeed, the human race. We all have a story from those days. We were watching television, or eating breakfast, or sitting in school, or listening to the car radio. Our mundane activities of life get cemented to a time and a place. They act as a benchmark, on a day typically unmemorable.

There are other memories of other days that enter our consciousness, some to a lesser degree than others.

  • The days assassins took Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. or John Lennon.
  • The days we lost great talent like John Belushi, Kurt Cobain, or Chris Farley.
  • Inspiring leaders disappeared like Princess Diana, Malcolm X. or John F. Kennedy Jr.
  • Natural phenomenon like the Indonesian tsunami, the Mexico City earthquake, or Hurricane Katrina.
  • The days war ended, and the days others began.

Please share in the comments some of your memories ingrained in our collective conscience from your perspective. Tell us, "Where were you the day...?"

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