Pearl Harbor and JFK's Assassination- two "generational moments" that touched America. Moments that cause people to remember exactly where they were or what they were doing when they first heard about them. Unfortunately, my generation has had two such moments. Obviously the terrorist attacks on America are unforgettable but the first moment was the space shuttle Challenger. This weekend marked twenty years since the Challenger disaster. On January 28, 1986 I was in Mrs Smith's fourth grade class at John Foster Dulles elementary school. We weren't among the students watching the launch on live TV because our lunch period occurred at that time. I remember someone coming up to our table saying that the shuttle had exploded, and we thinking it was a joke. I can remember exactly where I was sitting in the cafeteria. We spent the rest of the day glued to the television watching the disastrous news come in. For years I thought that would be our generation's moment in time.
Last night A&E had a special about on about the World Trade Center bombings. Whenever these 9/11 programs come on, I feel obligated to watch. On September 11, 2001 I was working at Cincinnati Bible College in the admissions office. Evan's wife called to tell us to turn on the television. We watched intently as the smoke bellowed from the north tower. But the moment the south tower suddenly burst into flames, and we all recognized that this wasn't an accident, everything changed. I remember how numb I felt in that moment. I was coach of the school's women's soccer team and I cancelled practice that day. I stayed up that night until 3am watching the news. I couldn't believe what had happened.
A crazy thing about being human: we can feel the pain of losing someone we've never met. I didn't personally know any of the people who perished in either of those accidents yet I felt [and still feel] this connection with them. Perhaps it's because we're forced to reflect on our own humanity. Churches in this country were never as full the weekend after September 11th; and everyone was praying. These moments make us realize how frail life is, that we're not invincible, and that we should cherish all the days we have on earth.
Maybe that's why I feel the need to watch every program about these disasters. I need to constantly be reminded of how precious and fleeting my own existence is. It gives me another piece of motivation to carpe diem and make a difference in this world. My mortality should affect the way I carry myself in life, and seeing the sudden deaths of others puts that into perspective.
I don't know if that's it or not, but I keep coming back to these moments in time. I am the only one, or do these moments stir you as well?