It was a Friday, I was 14, a freshman in high school. I came back from lunch and knew something had happened, all the teachers were clotted together and murmuring to each other. Our football team had a playoff game way downstate for the state championship, and after we found out what had happened we were afraid that it would be canceled. But it wasn’t, there was just a moment of silence at the beginning, and the rest of the evening went by as if nothing had happened. We won the game, that was the main thing to us. I cringe with embarrassment and shame at some of the things that I and others said on the bus ride down. Coming back everyone was pretty much asleep.
Was it Sunday when the next shocking thing happened, in the jail? I just remember my father saying that we should pay attention and remember, because this was history being made right in front of our eyes.
Now I look back on that day and those events as a turning point, not the only one certainly, but a major one, that ended the period of post-war smugness and certainty, and ushered in rapid changes and the anxieties that went with them.
How much has changed since then, and how little. I’ve been alive long enough to take the long view, but there are momentous events that mark the turning of a corner. I can’t help wondering what corners are coming, especially for those who are 14 right now.