Baby Boomers: What events have changed your life? 89



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Those of us that are from the baby boomer generation (1946 – 1964) have been impacted by many events, but some just stand out, and have so much meaning that they bear reflecting upon. Selecting such events is a personal thing, so your choices may vary from mine. Share what yours are in the comments below…


World Trade Centre



1. The JFK Assassination

The majority of people alive today were not around in 1963, so they cannot comprehend the impact of that event. I will always remember the date, November 22 (the day after my birthday).

I lived in Canada at the time and was signing my name to a year twelve exam paper, when an announcement came over the Public Address System that the President, John Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas. His assassination left me and millions of others in a numb state of disbelief. Suddenly, the person representing strength and stability was gone, and in that moment, the world felt fractured and unstable.

Since that day, I have been to Dealey Plaza (the site of the assassination) several times and the feeling is surreal. The plaza itself looks smaller than how it appeared on TV and there is a mark on the roadway indicating the site of the deadly deed. Being there also makes you realise that you are at the site of one of the most significant historical events of the 20th century. The event is forever imprinted in my mind.


2. Lunar Landing 1969

On July 27, 1969 I was a friend’s, watching the event unfold as Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. John Kennedy implored the United States to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade of the 60’s and it was achieved. It was an amazing scientific and technological feat, and showed that when a nation or people put their focus and intent on something, the results can be incredible.

It was remarkable to think that man had set foot on another celestial body. Flights to the moon lasted until 1972 and no one has been there since. In fact, the U.S. currently cannot even launch a man (or woman) into earth orbit. There is an old biblical proverb; “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. It seems that this proverb applies not just to people but to nations as well.

The moon mission for me shows what is possible and how important purpose is in life. It seems that America has lost its purpose. We can all learn from that lesson.


3. Collapse Of The “Iron Curtain”

From the end of the Second World War, the “iron curtain” symbolized the separation between the eastern, communistic, repressive world and the western, democratic, free world. For decades it seemed that it was the way of the world and it would never change until the year 1989.

Because of deteriorating economic conditions, a liberal Soviet President, named Gorbachev and an insatiable desire by people in the eastern bloc countries for freedom, change was afoot. In country after country, the communist regimes fell like a stack of dominos. In Romania, where my family was from, the restrictions under communism were so severe that life was almost intolerable at times. Thankfully, the Romanian revolution changed all that.

This episode in history has taught us that there is an inherent human desire and need for freedom of expression. Many of the people from those countries have gone on to contribute, using their freely available skills for the betterment of society.


4. Invention Of The Personal Computer

The personal computer came on the scene in the late 1970’s. It was really the start of the technological revolution we have today; the internet, Smartphones, iPads, all developed as extensions of the personal computer.

Having grown up with manual typewriters, as many of you did, it was hard to imagine devices that could give access to so much, in so many different places and to connect the world in so many different ways. It has given every individual a greater sense of freedom, and an increased ability for self-expression. Today, the mobile phone has much more computing power than the Apollo spacecraft which took men to the moon.

One of the philosophical questions we have to ask ourselves is whether or not we have lost the personal face-to-face communication skills of yesteryear as the result of these devices. As I sit here blogging away, instead of thinking of it as diminishing relationships perhaps it is an addition to them. Only time will tell.


5. Attack On The World Trade Centre

This was another one of those events that seemed incomprehensible. What made it more so was that the attack and its aftermath was televised live. The collapse of the two buildings, after being struck by the aircraft, seemed to symbolise an attack on civilisation itself.

It woke us up to the fact that anything is possible. It also was indicative of what can happen when a country or individuals become elated or even arrogant. While no one is deserving of such unspeakable violence, perhaps it showed us that when we are one sided and not humble that we shut ourselves off from the other side.

The attack humbled America. Americans (at least for a while) started to think about what was really important in life instead of full steam ahead thinking only about the next dollar. What it also showed was how a country and individuals could come back against such adversity.


For me, these are the moments that defined history throughout my life… What five things would be on your list?

Dr Ely Lazar and Dr Adele Thomas

  1. Five events
    Watergate: I remember watching the slow, agonizing downfall of President Nixon broadcast live from 1972 to 1974, as cover up after cover up was exposed by Woodward and Bernstein of the Washington Post. I couldn’t believe how it could possibly get worse and worse, but the missing 18 minutes of taped conversations was the ultimate indication of the corruption in the Oval Office. It showed me, then a naive 22 year old, what the real world was like. If the man holding the position we had been taught to aspire to, to respect above all others, the President, could act with such disdain for the laws he was sworn to uphold, then anything was possible.
    The first hand held electronic game, made by Mattel, 1979: The game was ostensibly football, but it was just a blinking red diode which was moved left or right, up or down by four buttons. There were no graphics, no sounds other than perhaps “beep”, and only one person could play it. But I saw 25 students crowded around silently transfixed as they watched their classmate play it the first day he brought it to school. We hadn’t seen anything like this, and I thought then that this was literally a game changer, a peak into the future. The arcade game Pong also was clearly a giant step into the future. One white block of light, two white paddles, a few beers and there went pinball games in pubs!
    Three Mike Island nuclear reactor near meltdown, 1979: I was living in nearby New Jersey, father to my not yet one year old daughter. We heard on the news that there was a risk of radioactive clouds drifting our direction, threatening ours and millions of others’ lives, and there was nothing we could do. I couldn’t protect my baby or my wife. The feeling of utter helplessness and fear hammered home our vulnerability to uncontrollable disaster of our own making.
    Challenger explosion, 1986: NASA had landed on the moon, America got bored with that, so it embarked on the space shuttle program. They were so confident they even trained a primary school teacher to fly, a sign of how space was soon to be accessible to all. I grew up in the 60s, followed all the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo flights and believed NASA could do no wrong. Watching New Hampshire teacher Christa McCauliffe’s parents’ smiles change to horrified shock and pain, as they and millions more watched their daughter and the rest of the crew die as Challenger disintegrated, showed me that despite our technological advances, we are nevertheless vulnerable to mistakes for which we are responsible.
    9/11: How much hatred there must be in the world. As if conventional war is not bad enough, we now faced people willing to die in the name of God, and to murder absolutely innocent people, by flying jets into the buildings which symbolized to them all that is wrong in the world. And America’s response has not made the world a safer place- quite the contrary. World War One, and Two, actually ended. I’m not sure this conflict will ever end.

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