I Remember

One of my cousins is retired, but volunteers at high schools in Nebraska. He announces small town football games, he writes stories about the games for local newspapers, and so forth. He’s well respected in the small-town communities around his area.

He recently posted something on Facebook that caught my attention. He apparently was invited to MC a cheerleading competition. He posted a group photo of several cheerleading squads (maybe they were the competition winners??) Anyhoo, there were some 50 or so girls from at least three schools posing in typical cheerleading positions. You know, those positions that make my body hurt just to look at them. But what struck me was that all of these girls — every single one — was wearing a mask.

Somehow, that just took my breath away. I couldn’t help but think that this photo was verification of how weird the world is right now. Not that we needed reminding. And it also made me think that when these kids are parents or grandparents, they’re going to show this photo to their kids/grands and tell them about 2020/2021, the years of the worldwide pandemic. The years when things changed dramatically.

That, then, made me think about significant times or world events that I still remember. Those where you know where you were when they happened. I’m 67 years old, so there have been quite a few. There are three that particularly come to my mind.

I attended Catholic school for my elementary and high school years. In 1960, I was in first grade. We were learning about how presidential elections worked. The teacher asked the class to raise their hands if they would vote for John F. Kennedy. Almost everyone raised their hands. She then asked who would vote for Richard M. Nixon. Carolyn Meyer and I raised our hands. Because see above: Catholic school. When I was in fourth grade, on November 22, 1963, our principal (a nun whose name I can’t recall) walked into our classroom with a very somber face. She said, “Children, get down on your knees. We are going to pray. Our president has been shot.” I think everyone remembers where they were when they heard that terrible news. His assassination changed America.

I remember June 12, 1987, when President Reagan made his famous speech in Berlin. He and other world leaders had been working for some time to defeat communism. Heck, during all those years of Catholic school, we never failed to pray for the “conversion of Russia.” Reagan’s speech in which he firmly told President Gorbachev, “Mr. Gorbachev, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL,” was an important part of the breakdown of communism. I watched the speech yesterday on You Tube, and I will admit that I started to cry. I never thought I would see an end to the Cold War in my lifetime.

Of course, one of the most unforgettable moments in all of our lives was September 11, 2001. In so very many ways, that event changed our lives forever.

I wish I could live long enough to first, see the end of this pandemic; and second, to see how it is written about in our kids history books in the future.

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