Social Question

Seek's avatar

Were you personally, or do you know someone who was personally, present at a famous historical event?

Asked by Seek (34769points) September 5th, 2010

My husband’s grandfather stormed the beaches at Normandy on D-Day.

My high school history teacher was protesting at Kent State University during the shooting. She still can’t stand to see the colours red and green together without having flashbacks.

My father was on Transit duty on Manhattan during 9/11. He was just a few months away from retiring from the NYPD. (to be fair, I don’t know what part of Manhattan he was working in at the time)

What personal connection do you have with history?

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52 Answers

lillycoyote's avatar

My college theatre professor spent several hours cowering behind a pillar when Charles Whitman decided to shoot at people from the Tower at UT Austin. It think there might be something else; I’ll have to get get back to you.

Brian1946's avatar

My mother’s stepmother was in San Francisco during the 1906 earthquake.

I was braced inside my bathroom doorway during the 6.7 Northridge earthquake of January, 1994.

SuperMouse's avatar

One of my closest friends lived in Florida when the space shuttle Challenger exploded. Traffic always stopped as the shuttle took off and the locals watched it soar through the air. My friend was watching out the front windshield of her car was Challenger exploded before her eyes. She has not been able to watch a shuttle launch since.

I worked in Los Angeles County during the Rodney King trial. I was at work the day the riots started. One by one my co-workers left as the news reported the rioting getting closer to their homes. They closed my office and kept it closed for two dies while the unrest died down.

@Brian1946, I was braced in the doorway of my bedroom for that very same earthquake! The 1971 Sylmar quake literally knocked me out of the top bunk of the bunk bed I was sleeping on.

lillycoyote's avatar

Oh yeah! I was at Watkins Glen. It wasn’t Woodstock, but it was the largest rock concert in rock concert history, if that counts. And there might be something else, I’ll have to get back to you on that.:-)

Brian1946's avatar


As I recall, the epicenter of that quake was near the intersection of Wilbur and Saticoy in Reseda.
I live in Sherman Oaks, which is about 6 miles away.

How far were you living from the epicenter then?

I saw Carl Lewis win the Gold Medal in the 100-meter dash at the 1984 Summer Olympics.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Brian1946 That is so totally cool!

Ben_Dover's avatar

I had a friend who was at the Ambassador Hotel when Bobby Kennedy was murdered in 1968.

Seek's avatar

@lillycoyote Wow! That’s friggin awesome.

@Ben_Dover No shit? Woah, that’s heavy.

Brian1946's avatar


Do you mean the Carl Lewis event or the earthquakes?

Being at a concert with 600,000 other partyers must have been awesome!

Austinlad's avatar

I was at the March on Washington in ‘63.

Coloma's avatar

My great grandmother was present at the 1st flight or Orville & Wilbur Wright at Kittyhawk in , uh…1898 or something. She was about 12–13

lillycoyote's avatar

@SuperMouse I wasn’t there to witness it in person, but I will remember the moment I heard about the Challenger explosion forever. I generally set my clock radio for about an hour before I wake up and that morning I awoke to that news. I remember lying in bed and being both horrified and transfixed by the news. It is one of those things that is burned into your brain forever. Over the course of the day, I, like everyone else, watched the footage on T.V. over and over, like any of those events, like 9/11 but I still remember waking up to it.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

My great grandfather was a mechanic with Charles Lindbergh.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

* Dad was in The Battle of The Bulge and his infantry regiment was one of the first to enter the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. (He brought back photos and a Luger.)
* Our sister marched in protest of the Vietnam war in Washington, DC, in 1965.
* A nephew lived on the same floor (a couple of doors down) from Cho during the Va. Tech Massacre and got grilled by the FBI when they were investigating.
* Our grandfather witnessed The Johnstown, Pa. Flood in 1889.

SeahorseisYay's avatar

My cousin’s teacher’s husband is Ronald McDonald. Not even kidding.

YARNLADY's avatar

I lived within earshot of the 1965 Watts Riots We holed up in the back part of our house, away from the street for a very scary weekend.

I was in view of the Bank of America when police shot and killed an innocent student because of their anti-protest mentality. My boss, an ex-Marine, said he would like to take a rifle to the top of our building and pick them all off.

Jeruba's avatar

Event, not exactly. But my great-granny was delegated to hand flowers to the president at a public event when she was a little girl of about 5. He kissed her and asked her when her birthday was. She said it was February 29, and he solemnly offered to exchange birthdays with her so she could have one every year. Or so goes family lore. His name was Abraham Lincoln.

Coloma's avatar

I lived in the area of Richard Trenton Chase the ‘Vampire killer of Sacramento’ in the 70’s. Talk about scary, he massacred a family including a toddler 10 houses down the street from me.

I lived alone and was only 18. Total paranoia til he was caught

Seek's avatar

@Jeruba That is heartwarming! I’ll have to tell my husband that one. He’s a huge fan of Mr. Lincoln, having grown up in one of his hometowns (Danville, IL).

iamthemob's avatar

I was escaping New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. My brother was on the last subway that left the financial district when the World Trade Center was hit.

Coloma's avatar

I guess my second sharing would fall under the category of historic serial killers. lol

lillycoyote's avatar

@Brian1946 I was referring to Carl Lewis, but the earthquake tradition in your family is certainly interesting too.

Jeruba's avatar

Oh, and I attended the last game that Ted Williams played for the Red Sox. He hit a home run.

Coloma's avatar


Awesome event, playing some old Grateful dead on my laptop now. Memory lane. lol

llewis's avatar

My great-grandfather attended Robert E. Lee at his surrender at Appomattox. I saw President Lyndon Johnson at the funeral of Adlai E. Stevenson in Bloomington, Illinois. hmm, 100 years later, just a couple of months different
and the family who owned the home where the surrender took place was named McLean, and the funeral was in McLean county, Illinois (Twilight Zone music here)

Ben_Dover's avatar

My friend Cricket lived next door to the Tate’s when Charlie Manson’s thugs broke in and killed them Helter Skelter style.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Jeruba You actually attended a game where Ted Williams not only played, but hit a home run? That is most certainly as awesome and as friggin’ cool as anything else that anyone has so far mentioned.

Jeruba's avatar

@lillycoyote, I truly did. I grew up on the South Shore, and the Red Sox were our home team. My father and his brothers loved ‘em and hated ‘em in the spirit of true Sox fans. This is the only game my father took me to. I was 13.

In those preliberation days, it would have been a different story if I’d been a boy.

Brian1946's avatar


I was also 13 in 1960.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Jeruba I get it. I missed a few things in those preliberation days too, including but certainly not limited to ocean fishing, because, apparently some men felt it was some kind of bad voodoo to have women, even young girls like myself, on their boats, but, if there was a game to be taken to, that one sounds like good one. Ted Williams hitting a home run….

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

The only thing that comes to mind is that my grandparents were detained in forced labor camps in Germany during WWII. I’m not sure if that counts as a specific “event”, though. The thing about that which I always find interesting is that people think it is shocking or surprising… because my family is not Jewish. My grandmother was 16 years old at the time, and 70 years later she still isn’t able to talk about it.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Nothing. I’m sorry to say, but there is nothing of lasting value to me or my family whatsoever.

My Great Great Grandfather was a Baptist Minister on Sundays and ran Moonshine during the week. Does that count?

lillycoyote's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr This is the most fascintating thing to me; if you check out the link from the
Wikipedia article at link the author states:

Many historians claimed that the Watkins Glen event was the largest gathering of people in the history of the United States. In essence, that meant that on July 28, one out of every 350 people living in America at the time was listening to the sounds of rock at the New York state racetrack. Considering that most of those who attended the event hailed from the Northeast, and that the average age of those present was ap proximately seventeen to twenty-four, close to one out of every three young people from Boston to New York was at the festival.

That’s just amazing, if you ask me.

BTW, I was 15 and had gotten my parents permission to go away for the weekend with my freinds and their parents on a ski trip. Obviously, that’s not what I was doing. :-)

Brian1946's avatar


Were you born in the same year as Madonna?

lillycoyote's avatar

@Brian1946 No, I just checked. She was born in 1958. I was born in 1957. Does it make a difference? Anyway, now everyone knows how old I am. Are you happy now? :-)

zen_'s avatar

My mom, as well as my grandparents, survived the Holocaust. The rest of my family did not.

lillycoyote's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Happy that your dearest Lilly is just an old crone?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

The best women are those most tender and well marinated.

Christian95's avatar

My grandfather was a refugee during World War II in Romania(he managed somehow to escape from Poland,he was just a child and came to Romania just with his father,rest of his family died and his father died too shortly after the War was finished)
My dad was in New York during 9/11 and he watched the attack from his hotel room.He also was in the crowd during Romanian revolution in 1989.
And finally my grandmother saw Constantin Brincusi a great romanian sculptor of the 20th century

JilltheTooth's avatar

I have a friend that worked at a bank that was on the 98th floor of one of the WTC towers. She and a number of others had gotten out safely in ‘93 after the bombing. On 9/11, they began walking down after the first plane hit the other tower. The PA system announced that they were all safe, it was an accident, return to desks, etc. The employees that had been there in ‘93 did not comply, and survived. The others did not. Horrible that so many obeyed orders from a faceless speaker in the ceiling and are not still with us today.

Seek's avatar

This is, hands down, my favorite question I’ve ever asked.

We all have such fascinating stories! Some happy, some very very sad, but all interesting.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Yes, Grandpa’s moonshine story counts. ^_^

SuperMouse's avatar

@Brian1946 in 1971 I was about 30 miles north in a suburb. I do remember that my grandparents and aunt and uncle who lived nearer the epicenter had to evacuate for a few days because the powers that be were afraid the Sepulveda Dam was going to burst! If you are (or were) in the San Fernando Valley you have probably lived through your share of floods in Sepulveda Basin.

My great grandfather was a pharmacist during the Spanish Flue outbreak of 1918. He kept working and dispensing medicine, but finally he caught the flu and it eventually killed him.

rebbel's avatar

My little brother was on a school trip to Prague, just when the Velvet Revolution took place.
He asked people who had their house on Wenceslas Square if he could come in, and he took pictures from the second floor about of the masses who were there.
Historic photos.
I was in Prague three years earlier, but nothing happened, well…, i got a ticket from twenty Krones for jay walking the Wenceslas Boulevard.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

My grandfather survived along with 4 other men in his company WWll.

My stepfather survived Vietnam.

Several uncles survived Vietnam. One uncle made four volunteer tours of duty to Vietnam.

Zyx's avatar

My grandparents on my mothers side were Dutch prisoners in Japanasia.
They had to eat tulip bulbs and my family is still pretty anti-germany and anti-japan.

My grandmother on my fathers side was born from Dutch parents in Indonesia when it was still Dutch but had to leave because of war and stuff. My grandfather on my fathers side was sent to Indonesia to prevent it’s independance after meeting my grandmother in The Netherlands. He came back before the shit hit the fan though. I wouldn’t be alive if he had succeeded in keeping Indonesia Dutch because my mother and my father would never have met.

Aster's avatar

I was introduced by my date to Jack Ruby, the killer of Lee Harvey Oswald, in Dallas in 1962.
Another old boyfriend was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam if that counts.

Jeruba's avatar

Jack Ruby…wow. And were you in Dallas on November 22, 1963?

Aster's avatar

@Jeruba It’s hard to remember but I think I was in Dallas because I was in college in Denton then. Forty miles from Dallas where my parents lived but I often went home on weekends. I was in Ft Worth when Kennedy was assasinated if I spelled that right. No, I didn’t.
The thing that puzzles me is when I met Jack Ruby I was in his club. I remember dancing and drinking but when I looked him up it said he owned a STRIP CLUB in Dallas. I hope that idiot didn’t take me dancing in a strip club. I recall meeting Jack, wearing a new black dress and dancing and that’s it. I would often go on dates with guys I didn’t like just to get out of the house. Or the dorm. loll

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Aster I had to read the 2nd to last sentence twice. I thought you meant that Jack was wearing a new black dress. :)

Aster's avatar

LOL !!!!

meiosis's avatar

I was there when Paul Gascoigne scored his beautiful goal against Scotland in the European Championships in 1996.

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