Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tragic Memories

We will all remember September 11. Many my age and older will remember November 22, 1963 as the day that they were stunned upon hearing of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Tragedies have a way of burning themselves into our minds.

An event that I remember clearly, but without the date attached was the mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana. I was shocked back into that memory yesterday as news and commentators remembered the events.

I was only 4 years old when Kennedy was assassinated, but I clearly remember news reports following the assassination of Martin Luther King. That balcony scene is still stuck in my mind.

Jonestown happened when I was a sophomore in college - November 18, 1978. The shocking news just seemed to keep coming out of that compound, beginning with the slaughter of reporters and a congressman and ending with the mass suicide of over 900 people. We were shocked that Jim Jones had actually taken his own life. Random news reports throughout the 70s introduced the world to this man and he was perceived as a murderer. When his body was discovered among the many that were lying throughout the compound, people breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that a pursuit, arrest and trial would be a hideous daily reminder of the events of that day.

"Don't drink the koolaid" became a part of our vernacular and we moved past the tragedy to deal with others as they presented themselves to our society.

Each person is marked by the tragedies and triumphs they experience. Those memories form us and shape us into the communities that we choose to participate with. Memories turn to history and time moves forward.

Yesterday was a difficult day to experience and an interesting day to remember.

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