Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Where Were You?

Have you ever been a part of something historical? Ever just been in the right place at the right time, and been able to claim you were a part of history?

Where were you when Elvis died? When Kennedy was assassinated? When women won the right to vote? When Coca-Cola brought back their original, classic recipe?

The last several decades have been some of the most active eras in history, creating moments almost before we have a chance to live them. Which is why I don't feel as old as I probably could have in other circumstances considering the semester project Jock has for his World History class.

The Gulf War.

How is this long enough ago to be considered fair game for a history class? It's only been 18 years. Yeah, that long. I know, it shocked me, too. After all, I lived that. (Well, I wasn't military, so perhaps "living it" has a different connotation for me.)

It was my senior year. I had spent a lot of time in high school performing the National Anthem at various games for the school, so this particular night shouldn't have been any different. Except it was.

I walked to the middle of the gym, standing on the basketball court. I held my microphone in a hand that shook slightly. The bleachers were silent. The players for both teams standing respectfully still. Every hat was off, and every hand was placed on every heart. The flag was lowered from the ceiling, slowly. All eyes were on that flag. And I sang. By myself, in a gymnasium full of my peers and their families. No music, no other voices. And I had never sounded less nervous, or more confident, at any performance before. Or any since, I think.

The words were heard clearly. The notes were as pure as they had originally been written. There was no flair added to that song. It was just the National Anthem, as it was intended to be sung. Pure. Sweet. Powerful.

And when the last note faded away, there was not a single dry eye in the gym.

You see, ten minutes before that performance; ten minutes before a gymnasium full of teenagers were about to play a simple game; ten minutes before that flag was lowered.....

War had been declared. And we would forever look at the world a little differently.

Now my son has a chance to study this "political action" for himself. This "conflict". Operation Desert Storm. And I'm in a unique position to help him understand this from a perspective not written of in textbooks, or on Wikipedia.

I wonder, though. With this generation able to learn about some of these things from actual people, people who actually experienced life at that time, will they be able to understand better what happened? Will they be able learn more from decisions made by people still living than they would be able to learn just from a textbook filled with people long gone? Will they perhaps appreciate their parents and grandparents a little bit more?

Will they look at the world just a little differently, too?


lunaticg said...

18 years? Really?
I agree on what you're saying about kids nowadays will not experience the history but I wish They will be no more history about war in the future.
See you around friend.

Karen said...

You gave me chills just reading it. I wish I could have been there.

My BIL had just joined the Air Force and Sam and I had just started dating. His parents were frantic, for obvious reasons. I remember.

Flea said...

I don't remember the day war was declared, but I remember a friend who got together a huge event just outside of D.C. (where I lived after college), with lots of local bands, as a fund raiser and support. And I was dating, briefly, a fellow who was in the army. We didn't talk much about the war. He was too twitterpated.

My more recent stand out memories are the day Oklahoma City was bombed. Election day 1992. Those are burned in my head.

Aimee said...

I remember I was in Jr. High during the gulf war, but not much else. My uncle was there. We saved Newspapers when the Headline (about the war) was bigger than the name of the paper.
My most vivid memory of history though was watching the Challenger space shuttle explode. I was in third grade, watching it on my grandma's TV.

raino said...

a really well written post. nice job.

T said...

great post! I remember the worry more than the actual moment... a few of my friends had gone military after HS... and they were just finishing their training to be shipped off to war... what a difference a year made in their lives...

Huckdoll said...

Amazing post. I don't really remember where I was when the Gulf War was declared but I do know I was quite young and extremely upset. I had an irrational fear of was as a little girl and I remember being terrified.

How brave of you to stand up and sing like that - you must be incredibly talented!