There are moments that tend to define a decade or a lifetime. That single instant when everything stood still and then changed forever, something so momentous occurs to where you can never go back to an innocence of the time before. In my childhood the 1960s was defined by the death of a young president that held so much promise. Oh, there were other similar tragedies to follow –– the death of his brother, the assassination of Martin Luther King, but my childhood naive beliefs in life was shattered with Kennedy’s death. I could never go back.
911 affected the nation. The Challenger explosion saw everyone glued to the television in hope, later in grief. To my mother’s generation that defining moment was Pearl Harbor. It was odd. She was a small child when it happened and she didn’t know anyone that was at Pearl Harbor, but the day stayed in her mind, and in some way defined her consciousness. Every year she would awaken me with the words “It’s December 7th ––Pearl Harbor Day.” She never spoke of how it changed her, rarely mentioned it other than to say she heard the news on the radio. Only, she never forgot how the whole nation held its breath and cried, and then how the sorrow and shock turned to anger.
My mum is no longer around to awaken me with that familiar phrase. She died on December 2, 1987, and was much much too young. When the anniversary of her death came around this year I was sad, but I chose to remember the good times with her. Oddly, this day hurts me a bit more, for it was so much a part of her. Thus, this day I will share a moment of silence in respect for the many who died on this day, and for my mother who never forgot.