World Events

What historic or world events took place in your early days?

Oddly enough, I have no personal memories of world events in my early days, though no doubt I could easily look up events from my early years in reference books! Perhaps we lived in a more sheltered world then; our news sources were radio and newspaper, and the world was surely not the global village then that it is today. We did not have television in our home, and of course there were no satellites in my earliest years, and certainly no internet! But these stories are meant to be from my own memories, and so I will tell about my first personal memory.

It takes place on November 22, 1963. That November day, at about 2 in the afternoon, our grade 3 class was holding class elections for our “Junior Red Cross” club. We had just completed the voting, and the teacher had announced that I had been voted class president! Just then, there was a knock at the door, and in walked the school principal, with a very sober expression on his face. He announced to us that the President of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy, had just been assassinated, and that as an act of respect, our school would close for the rest of the day, and our school flag would fly at half mast. Then he left to speak to the rest of the classes. I remember sitting there feeling like the bottom of the world had fallen out. Everyone was very quiet. In my rather sheltered existence, I knew little about President Kennedy, but I did have a sense that he was a great man, and that somehow this event had changed the world forever. After sitting there silently for a minute or two, our teacher dismissed us from class, and told us to go straight home.

Our classroom was in the highest level of the school, right next to a wide flight of stairs. I sat down at the top of the stairs, probably to put on my snow boots, and suddenly a few of my classmates gathered around me, and one or two of them started taunting me: “President Kennedy died, and you just got voted President so you’re going to die” or words to that effect. I remember shuddering, not out of fear, but with wonder that such insensitive and disrespectful words related to the death of a great person could be spoken. It was after this that the realization came upon me that history was more than just stories, and that the stories of history are also the stories of each of us, as they have made the world we live in. After that, I listened more carefully to the radio news, read about world events more carefully, and my interest in current events, world history, politics and such grew by bounds. One day I would become a Social Studies teacher, with a specialty in historical geography, and even an invitation from the dean of the history department of the University of British Columbia to return and take my doctorate in history. While my path has taken a different route than he envisioned, I have never lost my interest in world events, an interest that started on that fateful day of November 22, 1963.

Written: Jun 01, 2008

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