Garrett Harris 10:11 p.m., May 23
Where were you when?.................................
All someone needs to ask is one question with a few minor changes to prompt heated and animated conversations regarding three significant dates in modern American history.
Where were you when Kennedy was shot?
I was only a small child of six, but I remember that day clearly. November 22, 1963, our family was visiting my Aunt Linda in Beaumont, California. While my Mom and Aunt Linda made lunch we all played outside with total abandon. We were kids and that’s what we did best. Later on we were told to be quiet during the telecast, so the adults could hear everything said.
The whole family crowded around the small black and white television, trying to get the best spot to watch the presidential procession. I remember how we went from sitting on the floor laughing and eating popcorn, to screaming in horror and disbelief as he was shot. To this day I am grateful for black and white TV. As horrible as it was to watch, it would have been far worse to see, had it been in color.
We cried for hours, holding each other for comfort and solace. The whole neighborhood sprang to action, calling and knocking on doors to ensure everyone knew of the tragedy. Televisions were carried outside to be hooked up in yards and garages, allowing neighbors without the luxury of TV the benefit of watching history unfold.
Mothers desperately tried to calm their children who were afraid their fathers would be shot too. My sister and I could not be calmed down, until we saw our father come home safely that night. We ran to him, hugging and kissing him, never wanting to let go.
Our neighborhood became a community, glued together as we watched the funeral together and the execution of Lee Harvey Oswald. Conversations sprang up in barbershops, beauty parlors and grocery stores, as everyone wondered what would happen to our country. Would someone else be able to effectively fill Kennedy’s shoes?
Where were you on 9-11?
I was on my way to work at the Dixieline in Solana Beach. The store was short staffed, due to several employees going on vacation and I was going in for coverage. I had decided to drive the back way from Escondido taking the route past Lake Hodges and the dam. I couldn’t understand why the traffic was so severely backed up, especially on an alternate route like that. I turned off the CD player and turned on the news. That’s when I heard what happened.
A wellspring of tears began to overflow. I was new to cell phones and service was intermittent, as I tried desperately to reach my husband.
When I arrived at the store, I was informed two of the employees were stranded in Texas. All flights were grounded due to the tragedy. I was asked to continue working there until they were able to return.
The store computers kept us informed of Osama bin Laden’s trilogy of terror….the twin towers, the Pentagon and flight 93. The lunch room TV continued to air the newscasts non-stop. I remember thinking back to the Kennedy assassination and how it was tragically ironic; because of soot and falling ash, the 9-11 disaster was black and white.
Since a wide spread area of San Diego county is military, we bore witness as friends, family and unknown neighbors of both active duty military and reserve soldiers were called to action. Our local communities were now on high alert. Tension was high. Ten long years have passed and human remains are still being discovered in and around ground zero.
Now the question our nation has been waiting to ask for ten long years has come to pass……………
Where were you when Osama bin Laden was shot?