Less four months. You can't miss November 22's significance, no matter what you think of Kennedy - we have a tendency to commemorate in a big way in increments of 50 and 100 years. I was thinking, though, that there's three moments in my almost 60 year- long-life that I clearly and distinctly remember where I was and what I was doing. Hence the "once every 20 years.
The first, of course, is the assassination of JFK. I would have been 9 years old. We were on the school bus on the way home and the bus driver at some point said something to the effect of "Well, President Kennedy was killed today." Which silenced the bus load of kids pretty effectively. I remember that as I got off the bus in front of the house, Mom was coming around from the clothes line with a basket of laundry and she was crying and then I knew it was true. What I find interesting is that I have no memory of knowing who President Kennedy was. Or even what a president was. My memories of anything with "President Kennedy" attached start at that moment. But I must have known or a sense of "It's true" wouldn't have been significant.
And then I remember sitting on the sofa with Mom and Dad and watching Ruby shoot Oswald live on TV and Dad said "Well, that's not going to help anything." I count that day and the day of the actual assassination as one - they're sort of merged in together.
And then there was the shuttle Challenger disaster. Oh, how I loved the idea of the shuttle program. It wasn't deep space, and the ships were shaped wrong, but we were going back and forth into space and that was something I had dreamed of for at least since the first time I read The Wonderful Flight To The Mushroom Planet. One of my coworkers would bring in a little black and white TV and at first a goodly number of the office would squeeze into his cubical to watch each launch. Eventually the flights began to be routine and while Dixon would still watch each one most of us just went about our business. Then one day he burst from his cubical - "The shuttle has exploded!" And we pushed in and watched in horror - a horror not lessened by its playing out on a small black and white screen.
Finally, of course, there was 9/11. I was teleworking, sitting at the dining room table, on the computer. My daughter and I were IM-ing and I had to reboot the computer. Whatever program we used for IM back in the day always popped up with a news headline when first opened. I don't remember the exact wording of the headline, but I clicked on the link. Only a single brief line about a plane flying into the World Trade Center. Its brevity told me that little was known yet, and of course I assumed it was a small plane. Wouldn't be the first time such a thing has happened. I'm not sure if I turned the TV on right then or if something about an update caused me to later on, but of course that was the end of work for the day. And for several days after. They closed the government and sent people home. I was glad I had been teleworking - the sudden flood of people trying get home gridlocked the city and left thousands of people very vulnerable to any further attacks that might have come. The folks who commuted by public transportation in particular - just because the government suddenly closes doesn't mean the train system has staff on hand to start running trains up the line.
If I keep to the average there will be at least one more memory-searing day in my life. I'm not really looking forward to that.