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Wednesday, 6 April 2016

A-Z: I Remember........ Events

                                                                I Remember When......
    Recalling Memories of My Childhood & Beyond

What major international and national EVENTS made an impact on you. 

Here are my thoughts and memories of  the assassination of President Kennedy, the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill, the death of Princess Diana and 9/11.  

[The Queen's Coronation in 1953  will feature at letter Q]

 22nd November 1963 - President Kennedy was Assassinated.  We were watching TV in the early evening when a special "over to our newsroom" announcement cut in,  and we heard about the shooting in Dallas.  During Kennedy's election campaign I was still at school and JFK was someone we admired and we poured over the photographs of his wife Jackie's fashions.  We saw on TV his powerful inauguration speech, his meeting with Russian leader Khrushchev, his speech at the Berlin Wall and my father got up during the night to hear his statement on the Cuban crisis which threatened world peace.  
We felt part of a new era.   Young and energetic-looking for a world leader, he made such a contrast with our own Prime Minister Harold Macmillan who seemed to epitomize the Edwardian period  of 50 years past.   I had never lost anyone close to me, yet President Kennedy's death hit me hard.  I stayed off university lectures to watch the funeral on TV and wept at the sight of Jackie Kennedy  and her two young children. 

Only three years later I was in Boston, USA on a year's exchange programme.  With another British girl we travelled around the country on the Greyhound bus, with Dallas and Washington DC on our itinerary.  We also also saw  the unveiling in Boston  of the JFK Library, attended by Robert and Edward Kennedy.    I know the Kennedy legend has long since been tarnished, but  it left a powerful memory.

30th January 1965 - Sir Winston Churchill's Funeral.  I had grown up with my father's reminiscences of the war, which included working in  London by the Cabinet War Rooms  and his high regard for Sir Winston Churchill.  At school in my exams for French and German (bit of irony here),   when asked in the essay question to write on a famous person, I chose Sir Winston.  His death, although not unexpected, still was a landmark event which I shared in.   I was doing Modern History and Politics at university and some of my class took the overnight  bus down from Edinburgh to London to join the thousands walking past his coffin in Westminster Hall.  We  sat as a family to watch the state funeral at St. Paul's Cathedral  and the iconic image of the cranes alongside the River Thames bowing in salute as the  coffin was carried by boat  down the river.

31st August 1997 - Death of Diana.  Sunday morning 7am and the phone went, meaning  a  leap out of bed thinking "Has something happened to our daughter", who we knew would be finishing  night shift at her work.   She gave us the news and of course we immediately turned to the television to watch the tragic events unfold - and it was tragic the sudden death of an attractive woman and mother  with so much potential but whose personal life had taken a sad turn before being cut short. 

You could not but be moved to see the two young princes following their mother's  coffin on its silent route through London.  Psychologists have written pages on the state of the nation at the time, "wallowing in grief tourism"  etc.  We were annoyed at the media calls for the Queen "to be with her people" i.e in London, as if being in Scotland meant she was out of her country.   It was a definitive moment in many ways.

11th September 2001 - 9/11:  I was working at Library Headquarters that day in the Local Studies Room when my daughter phoned to tell me  that a plane had crashed into the twin towers in New York.  I had visited the city thirty years ago,  long before the twin towers were built and I must admit I was a bit hazy about them, but my first reaction was "what an awful accident".  I told colleagues and we logged onto the BBC website and saw  the dreadful news of the second strike.    There was an American visitor  in the Study Room and we broke the news to him - he immediately went outside to phone friends and family. We then dashed to the Training Room where there was a television.   Words cannot describe the horror.  What struck in my mind most  was the experience of those on the  planes who had left  Boston to discover  they were flying to their death - yet whose thoughts were to phone family expressing their love.

A  week later we were on holiday on the west coast of Scotland and took the ferry from Oban to sail to the Isle of Mull and then onto the Isle of Iona.  It was the most perfect September day you could have asked for - sunny blue skies, a calm sea, a  panorama of hills and the seals bobbing around the ferry.    There were a lot of Americans on the boat, and the atmosphere was quiet and subdued.  People were going up to them to shake their hand and extend their sympathy. 

Everyone talks abut the magical nature of Iona -  the seat of Scottish Christianity where St. Columba founded his Abbey in 563AD.  It is amazing that even though the boat seemed busy, visitors spread out on the small island and it seems as if you have the place to yourself.  It was so peaceful - a beautiful haven in what suddenly seemed  a very  evil world. 

Celtic Cross on Iona looking over to the Isle of Mull

More E's: 
EATING OUT - Did you eat out as a child?  My such memories are zero.  I can't remember ever as a child or teenager going out fir a family meal in a cafe or restaurant in our home town.  We were not unusual - people just did no do it, except when away on holiday.    I

EASTER - Did your family follow any special traditions?

                                                    Onto F's 
         Food,  Fads & Fashions, First Memory & Freedom

In Case You Missed.....
A-Z Challenge 2016 Theme Revealed:   
I Remember......Memories of Childhood

Copyright © 2016 -  Susan Donaldson  - All Rights Reserved



  1. Hi Sue - Diana's death was the one that shocked me the most. Nothing more sobering than seeing someone of your generation taken too soon.

  2. I remember being told of Kennedy's death while in high school swim team practice. Remember being in the dentists for a teeth cleaning when on 9/11. I can't remember where I was for any of the rest, although I have a few different ones I remember.
    Finding Eliza

  3. A very poignant post.
    The town I grew up in had no businesses and we never went out as a family to eat except on holiday. BUT when my grampa decided to get a car and they would come to visit, on Sunday after church he would take my brother and I out for "Chicken in a Basket" - I loved those days.

  4. I really enjoyed this post - it made me remember my own thoughts of those events - I should write them down.


  5. Yep, I remember all those too. I was in 7th grade when Kennedy was assassinated. We were let out of school early and I ran all the way home. We sat glued to the tv. I remember seeing Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald. That was surreal! I was teaching when the Twin Towers were hit. I was returning to my office and noticed other teachers huddled around a tv but had no clue what that was about. Driving home I heard about it on the radio. I couldn't leave the tv set. I cried and cried watching people hold up pictures and posters of their loved ones, certain they would have the umph to survive.

  6. My husband and I had just flown back from my home in upstate New York to our Las Vegas, NV, then driven across the desert to the Grand Canyon, where we lived and worked. We'd been on our honeymoon, and, at first, I didn't understand what the people at the restaurant where I worked were talking about. The intersection of personal joy and such a jarring tragedy...

    That happened again on September 11, 2001. Our first child had been born only 9 days before, and he wasn't sleeping much. We lived just outside Yellowstone National Park then, and a neighbor knocked on the door to ask me if I had a TV, and to turn it on, because we were being attacked. My sleep-deprived mind couldn't get past bison, geysers, and the like - until she said America was being attacked. It took a while longer to realize that my father often drove bus tours to the city. Fortunately, he wasn't there that day.

    I watched the news for hours, crying on my newborn's face. I felt most for the mothers who had just borne or wear soon to bear children to fathers who had died in the attacks.

    Later, I learned that a classmate of mine lost his mother in the towers.

    There is a moving display here at the New York State Museum. We've visited it often through the years. My son will celebrate his 15th birthday this September - and, like every other year, it will be, in some ways, connected to the anniversary that will follow.

    Boldly Going Through the Alphabet!
    Part-Time Minion for Holton's Heroes
    shanjeniah's Lovely Chaos

  7. I clearly remember 3 of the 4 events you have described, Sue. Churchill's funeral would have been reported on our news, but for some reason I cannot remember the details. I do, however, remember the day that our Prime Minister Harold Holt disappeared, presumably drowned!

  8. Thank you all for sharing your memories of major events in our lives.


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