Eric McNulty on Life
Three generations have defining moments the anniversaries of which fall within three weeks of each other: the assassination of JFK (November 22), the attack on Pearl Harbor (December 7), and the assassination of John Lennon (December 8).
Each of these events brings back searing memories for large groups of people yet they often slide by with little widespread public attention. Last year my father and I had lunch the day after Pearl Harbor Day and he remarked that the holiday had passed without mention in the newspaper or on the news. For his generation, that day carries such significance that it was unimaginable not to mark it.
Yet I know that he had no idea that we were meeting on the anniversary of John Lennon's death nor would he understand its significance to a completely different group.
I live not far from JFK's birthplace and two years ago, on the 40th anniversary of his assassination, my wife and I walked over to lay flowers by the marker in the front yard (the house is now a national historic site). We arrived in mid-afternoon and it was a beautiful sunny day. I was amazed to find only two other bouquets there.\n\nIt has made me think about cultural markers and how difficult it is to keep them front of mind unless they are tied to a day off of some sort. Perhaps they aren't significant anymore but I think that it is important to remember these days, these events, these people -- they are part of what binds us together as a nation and a people.\n\nThey highlight what we have in common as well as what differentiates us. They offer opportunities to reflect and to share.\n\nIt is particularly difficult now that the all-consuming Festival of Shopping starts around Halloween and lasts until the new year. It is hard for anything to blast through the endless seasonal music, ads, and other noise.\n\nBut it's not too late. If John Lennon touched you in some way, share that today. If your parents or grandparents are of that 'greatest generation' and are still alive, call and talk to them about their memories of Pearl Harbor Day. And next November 22, remember the legacy of JFK's call of a generation to service, to reach for the stars, and to believe in the future.