Thursday, May 12, 2005

Where were you...?

Okay, now that my brain has settled....think about how there are some things so ingrained in our memory, even if they didnt happen directly to us, we knew what we were doing at the very minute that they happened. It seems that every generation has one or two of those instances, where you can ask the question "where were you?" of anybody you come across, and they'll know exactly what they were doing. Here are some of the things that come to mind, spanning the last 60 years:

-Pearl Harbor is Attacked
-Cuban missle crisis (granted, it lasted longer, but unforgettable)
-Kennedy is shot
-The Challenger explodes
-9-11 Terrorist attacks
-Beltway sniper attacks

Notice they all have to do with tragic loss. The iron curtain fell in Europe, a good thing, but I'm a bit more fuzzy on what I was doing then. perhaps some people remember the Lunar Landing in the same light, but we certainly dont speak of the repercussions the same way. Totally different vibes are created. I know what I was doing when I learned of every single attack from the DC Sniper. I remember vividly. I remember the fear. the fear that had to be similar (though probably less intense) than that of the Cuban Missle Crisis. This last one on my list I grant is not as far reaching, and well known, but around DC it is.

The two that most influenced me would have to the be the Sniper and 9-11. In both cases we're confronted with a dark piece of information that something has gone drastically wrong, in a place dangerously close to our loved ones. The pentagon is attacked, federal buildings are evacuated, the city is a mess, another plane is coming in. Where is my father? Is he okay? Where will he be when this other plane comes in? Suddenly the fact that he works in FBI Headquarters isnt so exciting. Another shooting. This time in early morning at a PG county school while busses are unloading. Which school? Was it a teacher? Are they okay? Okay, so its not a teacher. So my mom is safe. But then I find the school is in my hometown. 3 hours before he struck I had driven past the very spot where the sniper supposedly made a "nest". According to the cops he was there then. waiting. creepy. very creepy.

Its amazing the imprint on our lives these evil people can make....


amy said...

yeah...I don't remember specific places for the sniper attack...I was probably at the library because I lived in the Library when I was in school. I DO remember being complete gripped by fear while the sniper was traveling around town shooting people on a whim. For 9-11 I was driving to school for the World Trade center news hit, then sitting in our engineering deli @taco bell for the pentagon news hit. It was insane.

Another instance I remember was sitting in the engineering library with 10 friends working on Transport homework when the Tornado hit College Park and Beltsville a few weeks after 9-11. That one hit me close becasuse we had people die on campus from also hit my hometown pretty bad, which was sad.

Brian said...

yeah, I remember that. I was actually taking a meteorology class at the time. so we talked about it the next day. I wasnt as close to the action that time.

Deb =Þ said...

This is very true -- why do we remember some things but not others. Why do some people have real fears but not others. I have some completely irrational fears, but even in the midst of the terror threats in Italy, 9-11, and multiple hurricane hits I never felt fear. I used to go rollerblading or running late at night and never felt fear even when cars would slow down and look like someone would get out. And in the midst of my car wreck I never had a nervous thought. Why, then, have there been two times when I have been overcome with dread? I don't remember the actual situations, but I do remember feeling very, very afraid -- the fear that someone was going to attack me. But I have an irrational fear of clifs. I imagine that if I had been around during the sniper attack I would have had some fear. The problem is the difference between people that have irrational fears (overprotective moms, etc.) and people that never really grasp the enormity of the situation. I am in the latter group. I have to psyche myself out in some situations - make myself realize how dangerous it is and act according to an intellectual understanding, and not an emotional reaction. Many (well, most if not all) times when I say I am "scared" of something I mean that I have a very good understanding of exactly what I'm getting myself into and I am aware of the consequences. I think what produces actual fear within us is the fear of the unknown - I think the sniper is a really good example of this. No one knew where he was, who he would shoot, where he would be, if loved ones were safe.

Most of the major world events that you mentioned inspire fear within us because we don't know what is going to happen as a result. Those that don't necessarily inspire fear, such as Kennedy's assassination, create in us a sense of awe. Questions arise like, "why did this happen," and "what is going to happen now?" People aren't necessarily afraid for their lives, but their senses are heightened -- they are more aware of what is going on around them because they are wondering what will happen next. When good things happen we don't suddenly start wondering about the future. We are excited about it - amazed at what has happened and how it might affect future generations, but we aren't in a fearful wonder about what is going to go on. I don't think we go through the same physical reactions when good things happen. Bad things happen to us, our bodies go under a certain amount of stress, the adrenaline kicks in, and suddenly we are VERY aware of everything that is going on around us. Imagine living in a war zone. I put my body through so many adrenaline rushes during my freshman year in college that after that year I was diagnosed with exhaustion and clinical depression. After a while your body is literally unable to produce the necessary substances to keep it going at such an unnatural pace. People who live in war zones must learn to react to what is going on around them despite the fact that the adrenaline is no longer pumping. I can't imagine being a soldier - always being "on." Wow. I am tired just thinking about it.

I remember where I was when the Space Shuttle exploded (preschool) - I remember hearing people say that they would forever remember where they were when it happened. I remember the OJ chase. I have lived through multiple deadly hurricanes and definitely remember those - they are never fun because they come at the absolute hottest and most humid time in FL and we are generally out of power for at least three days. I don't remember much about 9-11 sadly enough. I was asleep. I remember waking up and having my roommate tell me that I "have to come see this on TV. You wouldn't belive it." I couldn't imagine what would have been interesting enough to wake me up at 9:45 the week before classes started and show me somehting on the TV. I remember saying "This better be really GOOD." And I remember not having any emotional response to it whatsoever. I never had an emotional response to it. I felt so dead. It was really strange. I've never had anyone close to me die. I don't know how I will react when it happens. I was very glad that my friends and their fathers were OK. No one I knew died. They were all OK. I don't understand why some people die and others don't. It's something that only God knows.

Welcome to the ridiculous world of Deb's stream of conscious.

Brian said...