Lifetime’s ’historical moments’ a mix of strides and setbacks

My son recently asked me what historic moments I’d lived through. I was waiting for the usual jab about my advanced years, but since he didn’t bring up me hunting dinosaurs, I put some thought to his question.

Immediately my mind went to watching the space shuttle Challenger exploding in 1986. (I guess I could have also added that the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated on re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere in 2003.)

I also thought about the first one-colour screen personal computer that was in my classroom around 1984. A little research shows me that the IBM PC was launched in 1981. This led me to thinking about cell phones, smart phones, laptops, tablets … basically all the technology that my teens take for granted. Television, movies, and music were also completely altered in my lifetime. I used 8-track tapes, records, cassettes, CDs, VHS, Beta, DVDs, then PVRs, Blockbuster movie rentals to Netflix streaming services. Email, floppy disks, VCRs, digital cameras, Sony Walkmans, boom boxes, GPS, iPods, and microwaves were all new in my lifetime.

In 1984 and 1985 musicians gathered to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. The concerts were watched by nearly two billion people. Maybe you remember the Do They Know it’s Christmas? or We are the World singles? Canada had its own version with the 1985 chart-topping Tears are Not Enough.

Also in 1985, I remember the protest song called Sun City recorded by Artists United Against Apartheid. In 1990 I saw coverage of Nelson Mandela being released from prison after decades incarcerated for opposing apartheid.

The Chernobyl disaster was in 1986. Diana, Princess of Wales, died in 1997. There was the stock market crash of 1987 and the 2000 dot-com market collapse. In 1989, the Berlin wall fell, uniting East and West Germany, ending the Cold War. The USSR dissolved two years later.

I remember the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, and the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. It’s sad because everyone thought that after Columbine everything would be different, but it now ranks as the fourth worst school shooting in the United States. Thoughts and prayers have changed nothing.

I vaguely remember conflicts in Chile, learning about the Dirty War in Argentina, and the invasion of Panama. For the Gulf War I had (and probably still have) baseball-type war cards that I bought with crappy cardboard bubble gum. The most impactful to me was  9/11, watching planes crash into the twin towers, and the following War on Terrorism to seek out weapons of mass destruction that were never found.

In the time my teens have been alive, Facebook (2004), YouTube (2005), Twitter (2006), Bitcoin (2009), and Instagram (2010) were created. Hurricane Katrina killed over 1,800 people in 2005, and Pluto was bumped from the planet list in 2006. 2008 marked the beginning of the Great Recession, and Obama was elected as the first Black president in the U.S. In 2008 in Canada we saw Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologizing for the residential school system.

The world’s population hit seven billion in 2011, and the Occupy movement started inspiring world protests that year. In 2013, Snowden showed the world that the NSA had been surveilling us, cannabis legalization began in earnest in 2013 (2018 in Canada), the U.S. Supreme Court said same-sex couples have a right to marry in 2015, and the Volkswagen emissions scandal eroded consumer trust. Brexit was voted in in 2016, Trump was elected, and alternative facts were born. The Notre-Dame Cathedral burns in 2019, and Greta Thunberg speaks at the UN Climate Action Summit with an echoing, “How dare you!?”

2020-2022 said hold my beer. In 2020 we faced a pandemic and lockdowns due to COVID-19, George Floyd’s murder brought racial tension to the surface and sparked protests worldwide, and former U.S. president Donald Trump chose to not accept his defeat, culminating in his supporters storming the U.S. Capitol in 2021. Canada invoked the Emergency Measures Act to stop the convoy protest, Russia illegally invaded Ukraine, COVID-19 lockdowns and protests continued, the number of unmarked graves at former residential schools continued to grow to over 6,000, and the monkeypox outbreak began.

Then the 21 people murdered in Uvalde, Texas, marked the 27th school shooting this year in the US … but let’s not talk about gun control. Overall, there’s been progress and setbacks, and I’m left shaking my head at Roe v. Wade, a decision that spans my lifetime and is currently moving from triumph to dumpster fire.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *