One of the things I have learned in life and in family history is that there are moments. Moments that are burned into our memory. We know exactly where we were and how we felt when our first child was born, when our mother died, when our spouse was diagnosed with cancer. We also know where we were and how we felt when the Twin Towers fell, when JFK was assassinated, when Pearl Harbor was bombed.
Tonight on Timeless, the Time Team travels to Monday, March 30, 1981. It’s odd to think of it as time travel when it is an event I remember. But, it is history. And, it is one of those moments.
I remember how I felt when I learned that there had been an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. It was one of the first times in my life that I had a conscious recognition that the world was not an inherently safe place. It was an awakening to the realization that chaos and fear and media can be used to manipulate the masses. It led to “grown-up” discussions on the playground and very real discussions around the dinner table.
This week the Ancestry Research Team looked into the family histories of Ronald Reagan, James Brady, Thomas Delahanty, and Tim McCarthy. We were looking for some fun or interesting story we could tell about the ancestry of one of those men. We even looked to see if we could connect one of their ancestors with the ancestors of a member of the cast. But, I kept coming back to my own memories of that day and I realized that those are the stories that need to be told.
I would give anything to know where my grandfather was, what he was doing, and what he felt on December 7, 1941 when he heard the news that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. We never talked about it. More importantly, I’d love to hear him talk about how he felt on the day he married my grandmother or held my father for the first time.
I want to know how my 3rd great-grandfather felt when he heard the news that Abraham Lincoln had been killed. Their families had associated with one another in Illinois decades earlier so he was more than just the President to them.
I would love to understand how my great-grandmother felt when she got word that her husband was being shipped off to fight in France during World War I or how she felt the day she got word that the war had ended and he would be coming home.
So, tonight, as I get ready to watch another episode of what has become my favorite television show, instead of thinking about the grand history and ancestry and stories of important figures, I’m thinking about my own history. I’m thinking that I will write down how I felt in those important moments in my life, both personal and global. So that those who come after me will have first-hand accounts of the moments I have witnessed in my life. And, while I’m at it, I’m going to ask my parents to share some of their TIMELESS MOMENTS memories. Including about the day that Reagan was shot.
What TIMELESS MOMENTS in your life do you need to write about?