Saturday, January 28, 2006

Twenty Years Yet a Lifetime

I am usually not around the computer on Saturdays, so I'm posting this on Friday and post-dating it.

Twenty Years.

I remember walking into History class my junior year to find my teacher standing next to a TV. He waited until we'd all taken our seats and the bell had rung, then told us that there had been an accident involving the shuttle, and turned on the TV. We watched the new coverage all period. they kept playing the footage over and over again. Obviously, it was all we talked about for some time.

I obviously don't have the memories of some people of watching it happen live. But I do remember thinking to myself, "This is it. This is my generation's Pearl Harbor -- a defining event that we'll always remember, the defining event of my lifetime."

And for almost 15 years, I was right. Until September 11, 2001. That day, I saw the second plane hit the tower live. I saw the towers collapse. And suddenly the Challenger Disaster was merely a blip on the radar of my life -- still an important evernt, still tragic, but the world didn't change overnight the way it did when the towers fell.

I knew this was true when the second shuttle disaster occurred and, while it was mourned, it did not take up all our thoughts and attention the way Challenger did.

I'll still always remember what happened on January 28th, 1986. But I no longer remember the time before it any differently than the time after it. All of those days, and that day itself, belong to the same past, the same previous lifetime, the same world long gone, gone since 9/11.