Where were you when Kennedy was shot? Where were you when the Moon landing took place? Where were you when the World Trade Centre was hit?
I can recall the time, place and circumstances of each of those events. You probably can too. Let’s explore some other memorable events.
King George VI died on Wednesday February 6, 1952: in the darkness of pre-dawn, my mother shook me awake, whispering, “The King has died.” Being 13 years of age, I would soon have to be out the door and off to my grade IX classes at Toronto’s St. Michael’s College School. Nothing in my upbringing or education had taught me of the British significance of the street names of my neighbourhood, Westminster, Sorauren, Lansdowne or Roncesvalles. My teenager’s world was quite small.
By Sunday June 3, 2012: my world had expanded. A trans-Atlantic cruise had dropped us off in Athens. A Boeing 737 then flew us to Gatwick. BritRail took us to my sister-in-law’s home in Bracknell. There we were, ensconced in front of the ‘telly’, sipping tea and watching coverage of QE II’s 60th Diamond Jubilee Anniversary regatta on the Thames.
What a gathering of vessels it was, 670 according to one count! All sorts of water craft of all sizes, including Dieppe evacuation veterans, racing shells, rowboats and kayaks. Oh how I wanted our canoe, “DANCES WITH WAVES”, to be among them. For some reason, Air Canada wouldn’t let us bring it as carry-on luggage on their Boeing 747.
Queen Elizabeth II died on Wednesday September 8. I was in Ottawa when I heard the radio broadcast. By the time we had driven the 80 km south to Morrisburg, the flags at its traffic circle and post office were already at half mast!
For the next several days, thanks to today’s technology, we were able to immerse ourselves in the colourful pageantry, praise and respect that the people of the Commonwealth and other countries of the world showered upon her.
Can you name any other monarch, president, prime minister or leader whose reign or term of office was as long-lasting, faithful, self-sacrificing and so worthy of respect?