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Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

What were the four most poignant historical time markers in your life?

Asked by Espiritus_Corvus (17269points) March 5th, 2016

A historical time marker is something everyone around you also experienced. For example, the one most poignant moment in my parent’s lives was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Number two would have been the Kennedy Assassination.

Naturally, if you were living in a country other than the States at the time, these events may have been felt differently by the population around you. For example, the Soviet tanks rolling into Budapest in 1958 might have been a life changing event for a Hungarian, but not much for an American. Or a black American might feel more strongly about the MLK assassination than the the assassination of one of the Kennedys. These are perfectly valid entries nevertheless.

Feel free to elaborate on where you were, what you were doing and why the event was poignant to you.

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29 Answers

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

For me it was:

(1) President Kennedy’s assassination
(2) The Vietnam War
(3) The fall of the Berlin Wall
(4) The 911 attacks

stanleybmanly's avatar

1. Vietnam

2. Passage of The Civil Rights Act

3.The election of Ronald Reagan

4.The decision to invade Iraq

JLeslie's avatar

1.The attempt on Reagan’s life.

2. The space shuttle exploding.

3. The Berlin Wall coming down.

4. 9/11.

An additional one is the first in-vitro baby.

dxs's avatar

From the top of my head:

1. The new millenium (heard/understood nothing about Y2K)
2. September 11 attacks (I was too young to understand it but I was sad because others were sad.)
3. The first black U.S. president
4. Whatever’s happening now in the run for presidency.

Mimishu1995's avatar

1. Obama (Well actally not very poignant but everyone was talking about it so…)
2. Chinese oil rig (I remember trying to get as much info about it as possible. At one point I thought my country was at war)
3. Same-sex marriage (A great movement of human’s tolerance)
4. ISIS (Enough said)

JLeslie's avatar

@dxs Y2K is a great one I completely forgot about. A nonevent, but there was so much worry and even panic leading up to it.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It is a constant and inescapable question and fundamental to our daily lives. The FBI / I phone controversy is just such a case, just as the glaring unconstitutional Guantanamo setup is another. Frankly, the direction the country has taken since 9/11 is rather worrisome as one after another of our bedrock constitutional safeguards is shunted to the side in deference to expediency. The situation might be deemed tolerable were it not for the alarming fact that the segment of the population ignorant of or indifferent to the implications appears to be on the rise.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Once again I’ve posted an answer to the wrong place on this frustratingly fkd up little window format on this phone.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@stanleybmanly A GA for eloquence, and I get it.

(1) 911 and all the ramifications thereof.

Pachy's avatar

November seems to be a key month for historical markers. Here are three key dates in my life.

11/22/63 – JFK’s assassination

11/9/65 – The first major blackout in the Northeast. I was living in NYC at the time and have never forgotten what an amazing experience it was.

11/4/2008 – Barack Obama’s first election. My friends and I were ecstatic.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I was around for the latter part of Vietnam, and Kennedy and the civil rights. However, I was really young don’t remember them well, and I certainly couldn’t tell you what the effect they had on everyone around me. I was still trying to figure out how to fly and how to really be Catwoman and stuff.

So, I would say…

1) Mi Lai, would be the earliest where I really felt the horror and revulsion of what humans are capable of.

2) 911

3) The Columbine shootings.

4) Barack and Michelle’s election

Strauss's avatar

I can’t limit it to only four. I’ll give you my five.

11/22/63—The Kennedy assassination. Like most other Americans, I was shocked and dumbfounded that this could happen. On a personal note, I had been politically active in his campaign, I actually had the opportunity to shake his hand during a campaign event. I was in a boarding school when it happened.

5/4/70—Kent State Shooting. I had just returned stateside from Vietnam less that a month earlier. I think I was still on leave when I heard about it. I was still sorting out my feelings about the involvement of the US in that war, as well as my own involvement in it.

4/20/99—The Columbine shootings. I had moved to the Denver area about three years previously, and I was working at a cable TV/internet company (later to be gobbled up by Comcast). There was a wall of monitors, and every channel was showing some news report of the event. I went over the wall only to find that it happened only about 10 miles away from where we were. It was gut-wrenching.

9/11/01. Need I say more?

7/20/12 Aurora (CO) Theater shooting. I live in Aurora, and I knew one of the victims. I had taken my children to that same theater on many occasions. It is almost in myneighborhood.

Seek's avatar

Stuff I can recall as a big deal:

President Clinton’s impeachment
Marriage equality.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You mean impeachment proceedings. Yeah, that was a big deal. He never inhaled or swallowed or nothing.

Seek's avatar

Hey, that was the year I learned what a blow job was.

Mimishu1995's avatar

Isn’t it strange that many American jellies choose Vietnam to be the most poignant event, while a Vietnamese jelly doesn’t feel so much personally? ~

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Vietnam War
Reagan’s election
Obama’s election

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s something to really, really think about @Mimishu1995. Your family was living it. We were just protesting it. Loudly. The young people…were hell bent on changing things. Changing America. And they did. Maybe that’s it. It changed our nation, but didn’t affect yours so much? Did it?

That is an excellent point I’d like to see developed further.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

^^Me too.

Cá bhfuil an Irishman?

Jak's avatar

summertime/71 – I saw something in the sky along with countless others who were calling in to the locaal radio station. It was daytime, I was ten and I saw it clearly. I felt connected to others and part of something larger than myself for the first time.
9/11/01 Working in an office, watched with others and felt completely disconnected. I actually felt myself shutting off, like light switches, one by one.
4/9/03 At my son’s Dr appointment waiting room. US Marines were helping locals in Bahdad pull down a statue of Saddam Hussein. I told him to watch careully. This was history in the making and I wanted him to be more aware of the world than I had been growing up.
President Obama’s inauguration speech. Up until that time a conservative, and narrow minded in retrospect. I liked what he was saying and respected his honest assessment and warning that it was not going to be easy, we’d all have to tighten our belts, etc. It was a catalyst for change in me and seven years later I’m a completely different person with a very liberal mindset. Thank you, Mr President. I haven’t liked absolutely all your decisions, but I’ve supported you from day one. It began as my civic duty but has become my pleasure.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Dutchess_III I mean I just didn’t experience it fully, by myself. All I see are my textbooks, TV programs and the talk about the aftermath. I was born too long after the war to actually see how things were while many of you probably had first-hand experience of it. My parents lived during the end of the war, and my granddad was sent to China to train as one of the chosen one who would return to rebuild the country after the war. So nobody really remembered anythinh significant.

Strauss's avatar

@Mimishu1995, @Dutchess_III I witnessed that war. I watched from a hospital ship in DaNang Harbor as the bombs and rockets exploded when the Viet Cong hit the ammo dump. I could see the very top of the Citadel in Hue from along the shore line of the South China Sea. On a quiet day I would watch the fishing crews relax with a game of soccer after a long day at sea. Christmas Eve 1968, I spent talking to helicopter pilots as they brought wounded out to the ship. Some survived, many did not.

filmfann's avatar

11/22/1963. The JFK assassination.

2/9/1964. The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.

7/20/1969. Neil Armstrong walks on the Moon.

9/11/2001. The terrorist attacks.

NerdyKeith's avatar

These are all relevant to Ireland:

Homosexuality decriminalised in 1993
Divorce legalised in 1995
Ireland starts using the euro currency in 2002
Civil partnership for same sex couples on 2010
Marriage Equality in 2015
Transgender people may declare their gender themselves 2015

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I entered 7th grade in Autumn, 1967. At this point, in my school, we no longer had nuns as teachers. We were given Jesuit priests and our classes from then on were segregated as to gender. I was very lucky that my Jesuits were young and of the “Liberation Theology” school. It was becoming increasingly impossible to keep the events surrounding the Vietnam war out of the classroom.

The Vietnam War at Home:
After the 1968 Tet Offensive, the US appeared to self-destruct all around us. Government explanations as to why we were investing so much blood and money into the war were found to be inadequate by a growing number of voters on both sides of the war. Impatience was growing. Tet pushed sentiments into high gear, awakening even the most somnolent among us. No longer was the anti-war movement exclusive of students and political radicals.

The following events—some related to the war and others not, but all of them tragedies—occurred in quick succession over the next 30 months, from January, 1968 to mid-May 1970 and changed America forever:

January, 1968: Tet Offensive

February, 1968: Battle of Huế and resultant Huế massacre of civilians by NVA and VC troops.

April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Assassinated

June 6, 1968: Leading Democratic candidate Robert Kennedy is assassinated

August 26 – 29, 1968: Chicago Democratic Party Convention Riots, 3 days of police riots live on TV nearly 24/7.

Summer, 1968 is marked with widespread anti-war and civil rights protests, police riots, violence. Over 200 cities were burning. The Democratic National Convention in Chicago was nearly shut down by three days of demonstrations and police violence in the streets. US troop levels in Vietnam were doubled from the year before peaking at 500,000 regular ground troops by July, 1968 in reaction to the Tet Offensive.

Autumn 1968 is marked by widespread campus anti-Vietnam war protests resulting in police riots at unprecedented levels around the world and in the U.S.

October, 1968: An unprecedented two million people, including housewives carrying infants, take part in Peace Moratorium march on Washington—still listed as the largest demonstration in U.S. history.

November 12, 1969: My Lai Massacre story breaks one year after the event.

May 4, 1970: Four students are shot dead during an anti-war demonstration by Ohio State National Guard troops at Kent State University, Ohio.

May 15, 1970: Two students are shot dead and twelve wounded by police during a civil rights demonstration at Jackson State College, Mississippi, 11 days after the Kent State shootings. College campuses across the US are paralyzed by demonstrations and riots.

After My Lai, not one American was left who did not have a strong opinion about the war. In 1971, existence and some content of the Pentagon Papers were published by the New York Times vindicating the suspicions of the anti-war movement. The entire uncensored content was finally published by the US National Archives in June, 2011, describing how the US executive branch had systematically lied, not only to the public but to Congress, about the government’s purpose and objectives in Vietnam.

You remember that shit, Strauss?

Strauss's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus I remember it well. From August of ‘68 through April ‘70 I was stationed in Vietnam on board a hospital ship, first as deckhand, then as radioman. That’s where I was when many of the events you mentioned came to pass. I also missed Woodstock, which was another event that defined this generation.

When I was transferred back Stateside, I had a few more months of active duty to serve. At that point I was less than enthusiastic about it. Whenever I went anywhere off base I was in my civvies. I remember a conversation I had with a career sailor I knew who couldn’t understand how I was not proud of my uniform.

It may seem like a dichotomy, but I’m not at all ashamed of either my service nor of my opposition to that war.

After I left the Navy, I wanted to do my part to change the world. Demonstrations and protest marches were all well and good, but I wanted to do something with a more immediate effect. That’s when I found an opportunity to volunteer to work with a crisis intervention hotline. I did that for most of the early seventies, eventually becoming a director of the organization.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus @Yetanotheruser thanks for your stories. It is nice to hear the experience of people from the US, especially people who actually fought in the war. And all the events of the war… I don’t remember being so specifically taught. The textbook only focused on what battles we won and how determined people were to win, no defeat whasoever, not even My Lai. I understand the intention but it, and the teachers, accidentally toned down the severity of the war. It made Vietnam look like some kind of superpower warrior punching the star out of America effortlessly. When I was young I actually thought we won the war that easily.

augustlan's avatar

John Lennon’s assassination
Space shuttle explodes
Obama’s first win
Marriage equality becomes the law of the land

JLeslie's avatar

I remembered another.

Elvis Presley dying. I’m not sure if someone named that already.

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