Moments That Change Us

Lyndon_B._Johnson_taking_the_oath_of_office,_November_1963

Everyone remembers at least one moment in time that is clear and distinct from all others. As we mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington through news stories and events, we reflect on the moments in history we remember. Below we have three interviews on events that are clear and distinct to the people of Saving Memories Forever.  As you read their stories, we encourage you to take the time to preserve and share your “historic moments” with the people you love.

Question:  “What historic event meant the most to you?”

 My Moment by Jen Baldwin               Jen Baldwin

Without doubt, the moment that affected me to my core was September 11, 2001.

9/11 affected me directly and personally.

When it happened, I knew that the United States would punish those who attacked. I knew that meant war, and I already understood something about war from the time my big brother enlisted in the Army Reserves. He was a soldier in the Gulf War. I was only in the sixth grade at the time and knowing that my brother, who I adored, was in danger was incredibly scary for me.

9/11 took me right back to that emotional place. Only this time, I was mostly focused on my sister and her family.  They live on Long Island and my brother-in-law commutes into the city every day for work.  I watched the horrific images on my television, and I was terrified by them. With communication lines overloaded, it took two more days after the attack for my family to hear from my sister. Luckily, they were OK, but my brother-in-law was only two blocks from the Twin Towers that morning.  It was close. Too close.

That’s when I felt it. There was something happening in the country that was more powerful than my family’s worries.  Throughout the country the gap between Republicans and Democrats, old and young, black and  white seemed to disappear. We were all just Americans, defending our land, our people and honoring those that we lost that day.  This adjustment in attitude towards each other is what I remember best. It was the first time that I can recall when we acted as one united nation.

September 11, 2001 is an event that I recall with a heavy heart, but also with hope. We pulled together that day. Our basic beliefs are the same and no matter how passionately we disagreed with one another, we can work together.  That basic level of understanding is what I hope to pass on to my own children, along with the memories and emotions of that day.

SMF-Jane1My Moment by Jane Baker

My “moment” is a series of events– all of which happened in the 1960’s.

It started with John F. Kennedy’s election as President. It was the first time that voters had elected someone outside the norm: young, Catholic, and charismatic. His election signaled a change in the nation.

Two years later I remember the March on Washington.  I watched it on our black and white TV. I was amazed by the ocean of people. Intermingled. Black and white. Locking arms with each other. I was proud of my cousin who was actually there. I saw the crowd, heard the “I have a dream speech”, and recognized the power of people coming together.

Just months later, JFK was assassinated. It seemed impossible. My classmates and I rode the bus home in silence.  Again, I watched the story unravel on TV. I remember watching the riderless horse in the funeral procession.   Five years later, (May 1968) MLK was assassinated. Then –only a month later–came Robert Kennedy’s murder. So many powerful, charismatic people killed. I was confused. Scared. Shaken.

But life went on. Lyndon Johnson assumed the presidency within hours. Andrew Young, Julian Bond, and others assumed  leadership roles in the civil rights movement. Scarcely a beat was missed. It was a seamless process.

The five years between Kennedy’s election and Robert Kennedy’s death taught me something. Humans are capable of great good and great evil. We can promote understanding and we can destroy. The overriding lesson was hopeful: we are a resilient democracy. We learn. We evolve.

4s2013 681My Moment by Rosetta Okohson-Reb

My moment is September 11, 2001. This is my generation’s Pearl Harbor.

I was a freshman in High School, and I can recall exactly where I was when the news came through. I was in Chemistry class.  Despite the fact that school had only started two weeks prior, the initial excitement of being back in school had already worn off.  I was sitting next to Holly Parker as  Mr. Thornhill droned on about the experiments and labs our class would cover.

Just minutes into the class, the principal burst through the door and told us to turn on the television. Our class sat and watched in horror as the first tower went up in flames. How could this happen? In America?

The class bell rang and students rushed into the halls. Girls hugged their friends. The loud speaker came on directing students to their next class and we were placed on a lock down.

I grasped a few things from 9/11. First, I learned that tomorrow is not promised to anyone. Neither is security. We can no longer relax like we could prior to 9/11.  I’m a Saint Louis Cardinals fan. When I attend a game, there is a security line, and that’s OK. But in the back of my mind, I think something might go wrong.

9/11 taught me several lessons: life is precious, and living means changing and growing.  We need to reach out to others.  After 9/11 people in my school, neighborhood and church communities supported each other. I learned it is possible for people to come together as a community, to set aside pettiness,  to build on tragedy and to create a stronger bond.

This is the story I will tell my niece who was born just days ago.

Genealogist Jen Baldwin is the owner of Ancestral Journeys. She writes for a variety of publications, speaks regionally on genealogy-related topics, co-hosts #genchat on Twitter and owns Conference Keeper. She also is the Director of Operations for The In-Depth Genealogist. Jane Baker, co-owner of Saving Memories Forever, likes to blog about little things in everyday life that strike her fancy.Rosetta Okohson-Reb, a Saint Louisan, spends time with her two beautiful dogs and living for Post Season at Busch Stadium. Go Cards!!

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