Ronnie

Do you remember?  I am not talking about the day-to-day requirements of everyday living, but occasions, events that you will always remember!  Events like 9-11.

When I was growing up, my Dad and I had many discussions about events in our life that we “remember.”

You know how it is. You remember where you were, what you were doing, and usually the date and time of the event.

The observation of the 20-year anniversary of 9-11 got me to thinking about events that I remember at this stage of my life compared to years ago when I had those discussions with my Dad.  He had only a few. I have many.

During his life, 1915-1987, he and I talked a lot about two events that stood out in his memory.  The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the day President Roosevelt died in 1945. In those days, everyone huddled around the radio. Obviously, communications were not as frequent or as sophisticated as today.  Even many years after Pearl Harbor, my Dad would talk, with some emotion,  about hearing President Franklin Roosevelt’s famous speech on the radio, “This Day Will Live in Infamy!” 

I suppose the first event that I stored in my memory bank and that I remember each year was the death of Buddy Holly, J.P. Richardson (the Big Bopper) and 17-year-old Richie Valens in a plane crash on February 3, 1959.   Known as “The Day The Music Died”, I was and still am a big fan of Holly and the others.  I was 15 years old at the time they were killed and it was my first realization, sadly, that people die young and unexpectedly. 

That February 3 date is burned into my mind. Many years later, on that date, one of my best friends and broadcast partner Dave Gotcher died of a heart attack at age 41 in 1986.  Dave and I were broadcasting high school football on a Longview radio station and spent many days..and nights..traveling to cover high school games.  His death on that date was a shock.  I remember him often and especially on that day in early February.    

The event that my Dad and I shared as one to remember occurred in the sixties.  The assassination of President John Kennedy on November 22, 1963 stunned the world.  I was a college freshman having lunch with a few of my friends when, of all things, a bunch of 19 year old guys were discussing religion when another student approached the group and said, “The President’s been shot.”  Our first reaction was that, “Stop it, man, that is one sick joke.”  Of course, we quickly learned that it was not a joke and the world turned upside down for weeks after that.

So many things happened that day and days to follow, including the shooting death of Lee Harvey Oswald, it is hard to remember everything. However, one thing stands out in my mind.  After we learned the President had died, we dutifully headed to our next class that afternoon.  

We expected all classes to be canceled, but we had to be sure.  Upon arriving at the assigned classroom, we found our elderly female teacher in tears. She was crying; not at the death of John Kennedy, but was crying in dismay that Lyndon Johnson was now President of the United States.  Needless to say, she was not a fan of LBJ. 

Unfortunately, other “events” in the sixties that are in my memory bank included the assassinations of Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy.  I remember where I was and what I was doing when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on January 28, 1986.

We all have those memories of special dates, including the birth or death of a loved one; anniversary dates and other special events in our life, but I am thinking about those special events other than those personal happenings.  I had a friend who had trouble remembering dates about anything.  So when he and his future bride planned their wedding, he convinced her to get married on his birthday. A sure-fire way to remember his anniversary!

We shall never forget September 11, 2001.  I was in a meeting at the Plano Chamber of Commerce when a chamber staff member interrupted the meeting to tell me to “turn on the television.”  I was annoyed at first due to what I considered the interruption of an important meeting.  However, we all quickly became glued to the TV, calling family members, checking on those who lived in other towns, and expressing concern for our nation.  

There have been other events of course in the past 70 plus years in my lifetime that are worth remembering and we all have those logged in our memory banks.  Hopefully, other than those personal memories, we have no other major events in the future that becomes “one to remember!”  

Ronnie Morrison is a former Henderson Daily News sports editor who is now a freelance writer and occasional contributor.

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