The Kennedy Assassination
Yes, I'm old enough to remember this absolutely clearly. It is probably the first real "news" item that I do remember (apart from a sense of unease around the Cuban Missile Crisis). I was in Grade 2, and we were sent home from school, told not to return home after lunch. "Neat!" was our first response. No one in my class knew the reason why, and we were not told. Outside, however, in the playground, one of the older boys said that the American president had been killed. None of us believed him. When I got home, I saw that my mother had been crying.
This is not as clear - I don't remember what year this was or how old I was. I do remember the house we were living in, so I can place it within the three years that we lived there. I mostly remember the grey images of the great state funeral, the people lining the streets, the gloomy procession (echoed years later in vivid colour by Diana's funeral).
The Moon Landing
We were on holiday, that summer, and staying in a motel with a pool. My parents sat inside on blazingly hot sunny days and watched TV endlessly, while I sensibly swam all day. I missed the "one small step" bit, but I do remember seeing those ghostly black and white images of the men bouncing around in the moon landscape as they happened, not just in the endless replays afterwards.
No, I don't remember where I was the night of the break-in :) But I do remember clearly the hours and hours of televised coverage of the hearings and those shifty, weaselly characters saying things like "at this point in time" and "I do not recall." And I remember the sober faces of one or two of the senate investigators. This one is perhaps the most "defining" event, however, as it represented the beginning of our complete lack of trust in government.
The Shooting of John Lennon
To be perfectly honest, this one didn't affect me all that deeply. But I do remember clearly where I was and what I was doing. I was in grad school in Toronto. It was fairly late at night, and my room mate and I had just been out behind one of the nearby corner stores stealing milk cartons to use as shelving. I was on my knees beside the bath, washing mine, when J came out of her room and called out that John Lennon had been shot.
The Challenger Disaster
Thankfully, I was in Hong Kong. I say thankfully, because it happened on January 28th, my birthday (and it was my 30th birthday), and it would have cast something of a pall over the day had I been in North America. As it was, we went out for breakfast the morning of the 29th and there was that terrible photo on the front page of all the newspapers.
Yes, well, I do remember the moment in the latish evening our time, when a new bulletin broke into the television program that Diana had been in a car accident. And then the moment of complete shock when the ticker-tape message scrolled by that she had died. And then the days and days of endless media coverage. And crying on the first day because she was young and beautiful and left two young sons. The sharp poignancy of the card with "Mummy" written on it on the hearse at her funeral.
Of course. It was very early in the morning, our time. I have a clock radio, that I use as an alarm clock. I had to teach that morning, and was awoken by a news bulletin that there'd been a plane crash in New York and there was a fire. I came upstairs and turned on the TV to an American channel. I saw the second plane hit and both towers collapse. My mother came out of her bedroom, and her immediate response when I told her what was going on was "oh, Lord, this means war." Then I had to go and teach an 8:30 class.