Week 49: Historical Events

Originally Published:  December 17, 2011

There were many historical events that have occurred in my lifetime.

I was born in 1969.  I don’t really remember and of the events of 1969 through the early 70s but they have played an important part in my life.  I have seen many of these events replayed many times through television coverage.  TV has made these events seem as if I was there even though they actually occurred before my birth or while I was a very small child.


  • John F Kennedy Assassination
  • Robert Kennedy Assassination
  • Martin Luther King Assassination
  • The Manson Family Murders
  • The First Man Landed on the Moon
  • Senator Edward Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick Car Accident and following Scandal


  • Computer Floppy Disks Introduced
  • Kent State Shootings
  • VCRs Introduced
  • MASH Premiers on TV
  • Watergate Scandal
  • US President Nixon Resigns
  • Microsoft Founded
  • Elvis Dies
  • Roots Miniseries appears on TV
  • Jonestown Massacre
  • Iran takes American Hostages

I remember Elvis dying.  I have a distinct memory of watching his last concert on TV and then seeing the announcement by his father of his death.  I don’t think that I really believed he was dead for a long time.  It didn’t seem real that someone that famous should just die.

I remember the Roots miniseries on TV.  I found it fascinating the Alfred Hailey could find out the identities of his ancestors.  This might have been the first hints of my interest in genealogy.  It seemed that he had put together the pieces of a puzzle to identify his ancestors and I have always enjoyed puzzles.

I remember the Jonestown Massacre as well.  This event was scary to me.  This was the first time that I realized that people could be convinced to go against their own beliefs to do something so totally insane.  It was the first time that I realized that people’s minds could be deceived and manipulated to that extent.  I remember thinking that if all those people could be convinced to do those things then how did I know that I wasn’t being manipulated like that!

I remember the hostages being held in Iran and the yellow ribbons appearing everywhere in support of them.  I remember thinking that President Jimmy Carter wasn’t doing enough to get them back home!


  • John Lennon Assassinated
  • Pac Man Released
  • Ted Turner Establishes CNN
  • Royal Wedding:  Charles and Diana
  • Reagan Assassination Attempt
  • Aids Identified
  • Personal Computers Introduced
  • Challenger Space Shuttle Explodes
  • DNA first used to convict killers
  • Berlin Wall Falls

The 1980s was the first decade that I can really remember completely.  I remember the coverage of John Lennon’s assassination.  I wasn’t a Beatles fan really but I knew who John Lennon was.

PacMan was my favorite video game as a kid and I was the family PacMan champion on our Atari Game system.

I don’t really remember clearly the day that CNN was established but I do remember that during this time news started being available all the time!  The news from around the world and across the country was now available 24 hours a day.   Now when there was a major event, you could turn to CNN and watch live coverage of the event!

I remember distinctly the Royal Wedding of Charles and Diana.  I got up in the middle of the night and watched the wedding coverage.  I have always been a romantic and bought into the whole Fairy Tale Wedding of the Century.

I remember the assassination attempt on President Reagan.  I saw it over and over on TV.  I was very concerned that President Reagan was going to die and I was relieved when he recovered.  It seemed strange that a mentally ill man could almost end the life of a President.  It became a reality to me that nobody is completely safe in this world!

I don’t really remember the personal computer being specifically released!  But the release of the personal computer has completely changed my life!  I spend most of every day using a computer.  My cell phone now has more computing power than the “Mainframe” computers that were in the University when I was high school!

I remember seeing the space shuttle disaster on TV.  I was in high school at the time of the disaster.  I think that I must have seen it on the news after the actual event.  I always felt that it was horrible that so many of the family members were there to see the launch and instead witnessed the untimely death of their family member.  With the teacher on the shuttle, millions of small school children were watching the launch and saw the explosion.  That must have been completely terrifying to them!

I remember watching the fall of the Berlin Wall on TV.  I think that I saw it live!  It was a joyous day.


  • Waco Texas Raid
  • Internet comes of age
  • 1993 Bombing of World Trade Center
  • OJ Simpson Trial
  • Oklahoma Center Bombing
  • Two Royal Divorces
  • Unabomber Arrested
  • Princess Diana Dies
  • President Clinton Impeached
  • Fear of the Y2K bug
  • John F Kennedy Jr Killed in Plane Crash
  • Killing Spree at Columbine High School

The Waco Texas Raid played out on the 24 hour cable news channels for days and ended with children dying in that horrible fire!

The internet has changed my life in many ways.  First, as a genealogist I can now access copies of records in seconds that would have take weeks (and a significant amount of money) to get before the internet.  Also, now news is available in seconds instead of days!

I vaguely remember the 1993 World Trade Center bombing but I don’t remember it really affecting my daily life.  It was a sad event that played out on TV but I didn’t know anybody really involved in the tragedy and so life just went on.

The OJ Simpson trial was a major event for me.  I loved to watch Court TV with the live coverage of Trials.  I was in college when the OJ Simpson trial occurred and I would come home every day from classes and watch the trial coverage.  The trial lasted for almost 9 months!  Johnny Cochran was a sight to see in that courtroom.  Whatever you believe about the verdict in the trial, if you watched the trial you would have to acknowledge that he was a great lawyer who ran that courtroom!

I vividly remember the Oklahoma Bombing.  I saw the immediate aftermath of the explosion on the TV.  I was shocked that someone could bomb a building like that in the middle of our country.  I remember thinking that it must a terrorist attack like the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.  Then, it was discovered that it was a US Citizen who had killed all those people.  This was the first time that it really felt like anyone could be killed just going about their daily lives.

I remember being saddened by the divorces in the Royal Family.  Not because they were royalty but because they were people who were so obviously unhappy!

The Unabomber being arrested was a strange time for me.  He was bombing technology related people and places.  I had seen the story of the Unabomber on Unsolved Mysteries and I remember looking at packages suspiciously after watching that show.  It was a relief when he was arrested.  I watched much of the trial coverage and feeling sorry for the brother who had made the awful decision to turn in his brother.   That would have been a horrible decision to make!

The death of Princess Diana was a horribly sad time for me.  The end of an era. The end of a fairy tale.  As long as she was alive the story might have ended much differently.  I am a romantic and I always thought that maybe Charles and Diana would get back together but that wasn’t to be.  The funeral was sad.

Then, President Clinton was impeached.  This was also a sad time for me.  I was disappointed in someone whom I respected.   His behavior was inexcusable and I felt incredibly sorry for Hillary Clinton at her public humiliation at the hands of her husband.

I vividly remember the fear of the Y2K bug.  It was feared that since early computers were programmed with only two digit years and that many of the calculations for activities were calculated as if 00 was 1900 instead of 2000 that many computers would not work correctly!  There were fears of massive power outages, plane crashes, and massive business failures and problems.  Not discussed as much but a present fear was the fear of terrorist attacks on the New Year’s celebrations that year.

The John F Kennedy Jr death in a plane crash was sad.  He was a young man with so much potential and then he was dead!  It also ended the dreams of Camelot and another Kennedy Presidency!  We will never know if he would have become a president but the potential was there.

The Columbine Killing Spree was the beginning of the mass shootings in public places.  This was the first one that made the news across the country and the beginning of the school shootings.  Now, even children weren’t safe just being in school.  This event more than any other removed our feeling of security as we go about our daily lives.  We now know that anyone can die at any time.


  • 9/11 Attacks
  • Iraq War Columbia
  • Space Shuttle Disaster
  • IPod, IPhone, and IPad are released
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • Facebook and Twitter are launched
  • US Recession
  • Royal Wedding:  William and Kate

The 2000’s have seen amazing changes!  There was the beginning of the decade with the 9/11 attacks.  I woke up that morning and my mother and sister were watching the news.  The first plane had crashed into the tower.  A few minutes later we saw the second plane go into the second tower!  It wasn’t just a tragedy but almost certainly an attack on our country!  I felt uncertain about our future!  The planes were grounded and the president was in the air in Air Force One!  I spent the day watching the news and wondering about the future of our country and our safety.  The following days made our country more united!  We decided that we wouldn’t allow the terrorist to make us change our way of life!  We went back to our lives and didn’t allow our fears to change our lives.

There was the Iraq war beginning with such a feeling of patriotism and that it was necessary.  Now there are questions about the validity of the reasons we went to war.  Was it really necessary?  Whatever the answer to that question, our troops deserve our thanks for our freedom and our respect for their service to our country.

The Columbia space shuttle explodes on reentry!  Another tragedy for our country.

The horrible images of those people trapped after Hurricane Katrina are burned into my mind.  The response to that disaster was inexcusable!

The killing of Osama Bin Laden was a victory for our country.  He was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and responsible for many deaths in our country.

Facebook and Twitter have made many changes to our lives.  I have both a Facebook and a twitter account and I update to them periodically.  Mostly I use them to stay in touch with my extended family and to share my genealogy findings.

The recession has made a major difference in all our lives.  Gas went from about a $1 in the early 2000s to almost $4 a gallon and all of the other costs have increased while many people are unemployed or at the very least haven’t had their incomes increase at the same pace as the prices have increased.

The Royal Wedding of William and Kate was an event that brought back the fairy tale feeling of his mother’s marriage in the 1980s.   But with this wedding you don’t get the feeling that she is going into the wedding without being aware of the problems she will face.  Maybe this will be wedding that lasts.

Week #49 – Historical Events

Week 49. Historical Events. Describe a memorable national historical event from your childhood. How old were you and how did you process this event? How did it affect your family?

This challenge runs from Saturday, December 3, 2011 through Friday, December 9, 2011.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your memories on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.