Friday, January 27, 2006

Where were you?

I will have a mechanism for voting (even if it is just emailing me your top five choices,) set up over the weekend. But right now
The Happy Feminist is asking where people were when historic events occurred. I'm answering hers and adding a few of my own.

My answers:

Deaths of John Lennon and Elvis, Iranian Hostage Crisis, Shooting of President Reagan: Not born yet, or I was unaware of them.

When I heard that the Challenger exploded, I was in Ms. Allen's third grade class watching it on TV. I don't particularly remember it as having been traumatic at the time, but I've had dreams about it and often thought about it, so I guess it probably was.

The OJ verdict. I was in english class. It was a very diverse English class with a teacher who had gone to the Citadel. Mr. Levin made it clear he was taking no crap from any of us and that there would be no fuss from anyone, no matter what happened. When the verdict was read, we were perfectly silent and remained so for the rest of class.

I was at the teen club where I worked when I learned that Susan Smith had drowned her kids. I felt a certain kinship to her for reasons that are obvious to those who know me well. That one hit me really hard.

I heard that Princess Diana died from my college advisor. He was a great kidder and I assumed for two days that it was a joke. (My college was really insular and I didn't watch much TV.)

The Monica Lewinsky story broke when I was in India with a group from my college. I went tearing all over Bombay buying up American magazines and trying to figure out if she was related to Mike "the Chicken Man" Lewinsky, a guy I'd gone to high school with. Yep. They were brother and sister.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was in North Carolina and at work. I called my mother in DC over and over until I got through to the low-income housing project she manages in Anacostia. When I did get through, she said "Of course I'm fine. Nobody bombs poor people!" and hung up on me.

When I heard Katharine Hepburn died, I had just returned from a vacation to see linguist friend. I was pretty upset and wore black for a week. She was my childhood hero.

Added later:
Oh yeah, and at my senior prom, the DJ played this weird song and my friend Kylie went "Oh! There's a dance to this song, I learned it on a cruise. It's called LA MACARENA!"

By mid-summer, the whole country knew how to do Kylie's dance.



Joel Monka said...

When John Lennon was shot I was out of school, working, and married. *sigh* I can feel the wrinkles forming as I type.

Steven Rowe said...

Joel: hey to be real old, you have to know where you were when President Kennedy was murdered. (i was in school). My parents generation were asked - where were you when Pearl Harbor was bombed?

fausto said...

I was 7 years old, just dismissed from first grade for the day, and walking across the Martin's back lawn on my way from the school bus stop to my house, when third-grader Craig, who had just gotten a transistor radio for his birthday, let the radio down from his ear and shouted from the curb to the dispersing band of kids, "President Kennedy was shot and killed today!" I went into my kitchen to find my mother slumped over the kitchen table, weeping.

TheCSO said...
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Chalicechick said...
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TheCSO said...

Hmm.. time to make CC feel old.

Deaths of John Lennon and Elvis, Iranian Hostage Crisis, Shooting of President Reagan: Not born yet, or I was unaware of them.

When I heard that the Challenger exploded: Well after the fact. I was unaware of this one too.

The first major news story I was really aware of was Iraq I, and that was *very* vaguely. I don't even remember the Berlin Wall falling. While I do have a vague recollection of Yeltsin's rise to power, Iraq I was when I was in the third grade and it's the first major news story I really remember.

The OJ verdict: Back room of the library at my high school. It was during lunch/free period I forget the name of, so this was basically me, a couple other students, and some teachers. Verdict was given, it was rather anticlimatic, I left. Not a big deal.

Susan Smith had drowned her kids: Dunno. Didn't know CC at the time, so I had no reason for this to be significant.

Princess Diana died: Dunno.

The Monica Lewinsky story: Dunno.

September 11, 2001: I was waiting in the front lobby of the science building at college, between classes, and a professor - I don't remember which one - told me on the way by.

Katharine Hepburn died: Dunno.


Anonymous said...

I don't have much of a memory, so most of those I am completely blank on. I remember when John Kennedy was assassinated I was home from high school for the day, sick. My mother came in the front door (unusual in itself) crying, saying the President had been killed. The radio had backed off on whether he was dead or not, but Mother was sure he was dead because they had said that earlier.
I was substituting in a dental office when the shuttle exploded -- we all stopped work to listen to the radio.
September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday. At about 5:30(?) am (California time) the DJ on the radio said a plane had hit the World Trade tower. Then she said, "It was a BIG one; that hole is huge!" so I ran into the other room and turned on the TV and called Joyce over. She said, as soon as I told her, "Terrorism!" Then we watched the second plane hit on live TV. I skipped my shower, and we watched until I had to go to work, and then we had the TV on all day in my operatory (it's on the ceiling).
Joyce had worked in the World Trade Tower and knew that no airplanes were allowed anywhere near them. It was very strange that they got close without being shot down, the usual expected response. Someone arranged for them NOT to be shot down....

Chalicechick said...

Have we ever shot down a plane full of American citizens?


Joel Monka said...

No, we haven't, and planes flew relatively close to the trade centers all the time- the idea that it was arranged for those particular planes to be allowed near is part if the "black helicopter" conspiracy lifestyle. If you stop and think of it logically, with an approach speed of some 350 MPH, and the airport only a few miles away, it would not be possible to intercept and shoot down a plane that got too close unless you had a fighter jet continuously circling the towers! If you're amused by such things, has a wonderful collection.

>SC Universalist: I went home for lunch, living across the street from school (for you youngsters, back then parents chose houses to be close to schools; busing was later) so we heard about Kennedy getting shot on the radio while I was eating lunch. I remember that my mom had trouble getting the words out, so at first I thought she had said "shocked" rather than shot, and had the mental image of the President trying to get toast out of the toaster with a butterknife and getting shocked. (something I had been warned about 1,000 times) That was actually the third big news story I remember- I can also remember the Mercury flights and the Bay of Pigs.

Chalicechick said...
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Chalicechick said...

Wow. That's a really evocative story, Joel.


Anonymous said...

Joyce says Joel is wrong -- planes were never allowed anywhere near the trade towers. La Guardia is about 20 miles away.
Helicopters came close to the towers but not planes.
There were normally jets that could have been in place to escort a plane away within a very few minutes -- remember when a plane got near the White House?
Those commercial jets -- they knew where they were at all times -- they knew when they turned around. That's why they destroyed the air controller's tapes.

Chalicechick said...

I doubt that the air traffic controllers' tapes would have been that useful anyway. The first thing the terrorists did was turn off the transponders. (Wouldn't you?)

Except the pilot of flight 11 pushed a button to let the air traffic controllers hear what's going on in the cockpit. Judging by the way this timeline talks about it, the tapes of the cockpit, and the tapes of the air controllers trying to get through to him, still exist. At least the timeline quotes them.

Also, um, planes fly really fast.
The first flight veered off course at 8:20 a.m. and the FAA confirmed it as a hijacking at 8:28 a.m.

The first plane hit at 8:45 a.m.

I know fighter pilots are very fast. But are they THAT fast?
I mean, I've been looking back and forth at the timeline, and I think I've spent more time writing this email they they had to A. Make the decision to shoot down a plane with hundreds of people in it (which one would think would have taken long enough) B. Get up there and do it.

Also, all of these planes were OVER MAJOR CITIES, except the one in Pennsylvania, which was the one that the people on the plane took back over.

I'm sure they could have shot down the plane that crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37, but it had been circling over Washington.

Even if they had send planes up to escort the airliners down, there's no way the airliners would have done what the fighters told them to, it was a suicide mission after all. And if they did shoot down a plane, where the bleep is it going to fall? (Answer:Onto another part of the city. Like my house.)

Spoken like someone who lives eight miles from the Pentagon, I know, but...


Steven Rowe said...

Joel: when president Kennedy was murdered, we were let out of school early - and of course took the school bus home, we did have school busses back then.
some of the important events listed werent high on my calendar - Lewinskly??? OJ?
Lennon's murder; I was working.
space shuttle: in graduate school.
Susan Smith, well since i was going to the town where this happened every other weekend then, knew the ARP minister who testified for her quite well at the time; but dont recall where i was when the word came out.
9-11, somebody at work asked me to check the internet out for news stories, that something odd had happened.

Anonymous said...

Oooh, I like your choices of events. I forgot about O.J. I was milking the cows on an Irish dairy farm when the Irish dairyman said, "Hey I just heard on the radio that they think a famous American footballer killed his wife." I said, "Was it O.J. Simpson?" because that was the only famous football player I knew.

Anonymous said...

Joyce says she's heard other times, but using yours: 8:28 to 8:45 is 17 minutes. I've heard they could have fighter planes alongside it in 5 minutes. That gives them 12 minutes left to make a decision. And they might have sent the fighters as escort before confirming the highjacking, just to be sure, so that would be longer.

Joel Monka said...

Kim, if you heard they could have had a fighter alongside the airliner in 5 minutes, you heard wrong. It doesn't even make sense- absent a state of national emergency, there is no military necessity for that kind of reaction time, because our satelite and DEW line early warning systems give much longer warnings of attack- form 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the kind of attack. The only way they could have had a fighter alongside in five minutes is if they kept a plane idling on the runway 24/7, just waiting for a hijack suicide attack- and even then, they'd have to get permission to break the sound barrier over populated areas to get there in time. Do you think that's normal operating procedure for every time a plane got close to the city? Planes are STILL flying over major cities every day- look at the accident at Midway, Chicago, where a plane ran off the end of the runway, through a fence- and hit a car on a city street! Look, a big airliner cruises at some 8 miles a minute at altitude, and 4-6 miles a minute on approach... there are hundreds of them within minutes of major targets at any given moment. There was no program to intercept them before they got close to the towers pre 9/11, and even now there's little chance an interception would work, which is why they're so careful before the plane leaves the ground. Nobody arranged for those planes to get through.

Chalicechick said...

Right, but...

A. In every previous hijacking I can think of excluding the munich bombing, a majority of the passengers survived after the plane was rerouted or a ransom was paid. Given that, why the hell would you shoot down a hijacked plane full of people?

B. I don't want anybody shooting down a plane over New York City OR Washington DC. (It's very interesting to contemplate how liberals would have reacted if they HAD shot down, say, the second flight intended for the rich white people of the WTC and it had veered off course and killed a thousand people in Harlem instead.)

C. They had the best chance at shooting down the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania. But it wouldn't have crashed in Pennsylvania if the passengers hadn't fought back and taken the flight. I'm kind of glad that those people died at the hands of terrorists rather than dying at the hands of us, particularly since they themselves kept the plane from hitting the target.