Today marks the 30thanniversary of the death of John Lennon.
The mention of certain world events triggers memories of where you were when you heard the news. The attack on the World Trade Center’s twin towers on 9/11, the explosion of the Challenger on takeoff and the assassination of President John Kennedy all seem to elicit similar reactions for people of my age.
Yesterday, my mom told me how her family gathered around the radio on December 7, 1941 to hear the awful news that the United States naval fleet at Pearl Harbor had been attacked. Later, neighbors came to my grandparents’ house to listen as President Roosevelt asked Congress for a formal declaration of war against Japan.
Today, my son watched a news retrospective on Lennon and asked if I remembered hearing the news that John Lennon had been killed.
“Of course, I remember,” I told him. I explained in detail how I was in my first year of law school in 1980, studying for class and, like many others on that night, I had been watching Monday Night Football. As the Patriots prepared for a field goal, Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford announced that Lennon’s death had just come across the news wire.
When I had finished telling my son about the day the music died, I looked up with tears welling in my eyes to find that he had apparently left the room at some point in my discourse to play World of Warcraft.
Two things became apparent to me. First…
Crap, I’ve become my parents
Technically, becoming my parents is not such a bad thing. Although there were certainly times during my teen years when I failed to recognize it, Robert and Imogene Robinson were pretty cool. I can live with being them.
What is odd about becoming my parents is that events which have happened during my adult life are now being dealt with in historical documentaries and retrospective newscasts. That was okay for my parents’ lives. But, watching television news clips about events that I remember makes me want to go outside and chase kids off my lawn.
Last year, I attended my nephew’s wedding in Dallas, Texas. Before I headed home, I went to Dealey Plaza. I watched as parents (and grandparents) walked younger people around the grounds, pointing here and there, while describing the assassination of President John Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
Providing a guided tour at the location of a tragic event is not weird in and of itself. I was in New York this past summer with my eldest son and found myself doing just that with him at the Dakota and Strawberry Fields.
But in Dallas it’s different. An “X” on the street indicates the spot where Kennedy was shot. The traffic lights are timed in a manner that allows you to stand on that spot and look back at the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. There is even a marker behind a fence on the “Grassy Knoll” where conspiracy theorists can hang their tin-foil lined hats.
And, if you don’t know what that reference means, just go there. Regardless of the hour or the weather you will find someone at Dealey Plaza lecturing on the Warren Commission and all of its inaccuracies. When the going gets weird, the weird go to Dealey Plaza.
Although the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is one of the better “event” museums I’ve ever toured, touring the exhibits just adds to the surreal feel of the whole experience. At the gift shop you can buy a Dealey Plaza Christmas ornament (no holiday greenery is complete without the Grassy Knoll hanging from it). They also sell a replica of JFK’s presidential limousine. I left when I found a trivia card game touted as “brain food.”
As I left, I noticed a sign on the front door of the museum warning patrons that guns were prohibited. If only Lee Harvey Oswald had used that door in 1963…
But I digress. I’ll move on to my second point.
What will my kids tell their kids?
“Well, kids, I remember that fateful day so well. I was finishing my holographic tour of Versailles and updating my implanted Facebook status brain chip, when I got a tweet from my robotic bff that …”
For the most part, I suppose it is human nature to remember the big tragic events in history. The joyful ones make less of an impression.
Personally, I remember where I was when I heard that the Berlin Wall was being torn down. Yet, I suspect that many baby boomers would have to search their memory banks for similar recollections.
How cool would it be if our kids could break the chain of tragic remembrance? Perhaps they would reminisce about where they were when they heard that a major international conflict was solved by politicians killing each other first…or that there was a cure for cancer.
Rick Robinson is the author of political thrillers which can be purchased on Amazon and at book stores everywhere. His latest novel, Manifest Destiny has won seven writing awards, including Best Fiction at the Paris Book Festival.