April 14th: 1865.....Lincoln was assassinated, 1912......the Titanic hits an iceberg and in 1935.....20 of the worst dust storms (called black blizzards) rolled through the plains causing almost blackout conditions. Coincidentally....the 14th fell on a Sunday that year causing it to be referred to as Black Sunday.
April 15th: ....In modern day this day starts out crappy for many every year. It is our last day to turn in our income tax information without getting an extension. As of last week.....it will also be remembered as the day of the Boston Marathon Bombing where 3 were killed and 170+ were injured.
April 16th: 1922......Prohibition became the law. 2007........the Virginia Tech shootings in which 32 plus the shooter died.
April 17th: 1961.....the Bay of Pigs invasion into Cuba. 1969.....Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated.
April 18th: 1906.....the San Francisco earth quake, killing approximately 3,000 and causing the city to burn almost to the ground. 1934.....the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped and a ransom of $5,000 was demanded, and in 1983....a car bomb exploded at the US Embassy in Lebanon killing 12.
April 19th: 1993.....Waco. Seventy members at the compound were killed. 1995....The Oklahoma City bombing. 168 people died that day.
April 20th: 1999.....the Columbine High School shootings where 13 were killed and 24 were injured.
So there you have it. Last week didn't stand a chance. I am thinking it is a good thing that Prohibition was finally repealed. Especially this time of year. Yeah...last week was one of those weeks that you just wished you could jump ahead and avoid the week entirely, or at the very least....just go back to bed, cover your head and have someone wake you when it was over.
On a different note....the National Geographic channel recently ran an interesting series. It was about the decade of the 1980's. It was really educational not to mention a bit of a walk down memory lane. I was a young adult through most of the 1980's and though living through it all I remembered most of it....however, there were certain nuances that I have either forgotten or never realized existed as well as my memory for the timeline of events was a little blurred.
I found it very interesting that as we went into 1980 our country wasn't in a whole lot different shape than we are right now. I also found it interesting that historians seem to be looking back on the 80's and pinpointing the 1980 Olympics and the USA Hockey team win for the gold, as the turning point for America. Overnight...patriotism, pride and a huge desire to get the country on good footing again became every ones greatest goal. Watching the footage of those famous games leading up to the US win, I was taken back to sitting on the couch with my mom, heart in my throat.....praying for that US win....especially against Russia. Mom was no hockey fan, nor was I....but that day.....everyone in America was glued to the greatest hockey game any of us is ever likely to see. When we beat the Russians and then again when we beat Finland to take home the gold.....there were unabashed tears shed in my living room and likely in the living rooms of many across the country. This was more than a gold medal....this was the US walking into a bright light after coming out of some really dark times. It was also symbolic of the fact that although Russia and their nuclear capabilities were one of our greatest threats both figuratively and in reality......we BEAT them! At that moment they really didn't seem all that scarey. Little did I know though.....while the US hockey team was made up of working class college age kids, the Russian team was made up of full grown KGB men. Not only that...it was found that the Russians were also packing heat on the ice. My how things have changed. In short....the cards were stacked against the US going in and miracle of miracles.....we won!
The point of the series was to show that everything we have now from technology to our entitlement issues came out of the 1980's. Everything from how we entertain ourselves (video games and tv), to how we now listen to music, communicate and do business was basically born during those ten years. The ideas, the technology and the dream came from a single decade and thanks to free enterprise and unafraid entrepreneurs.....we are now a technology rich nation. Possibly the negative side to the 1980's though, was the loss of our core values from knowing the value of a dollar to feeling like things should be worked for instead of simply given. We were coming out of a stark era of wars, political unrest, riots, recession, high gas prices, high everything prices and we were really seeing no light at the end of the tunnel. To my parents....who came from very humble means, money was to be saved for a rainy day and when you shopped whether it be for food or clothes or whatever....you shopped for need....not desire. You had what you needed and that was enough. The 1980's though....changed not only the economic climate, but overnight it seemed to also change our way of thinking and yes....even our values!
The series talked in great length about the pro's and cons of one of the most iconic presidents in modern times....Ronald Reagan. I liked Reagan then, because my mom liked Reagan. In subsequent years though, I have learned that he was a one of a kind president whose wisdom, tough and unwavering stands and love of his country made him a one of a kind man....and to this day, I miss him. How unlikely.....an actor becoming a president. I learned from watching though that many feared Reagan because he had a no nonsense approach to his job and there was apprehension that his tough talk might turn into even tougher action...possibly causing WWIII or even an all out nuclear war. This fear was causing his approval rating to go down after his election until, the assassination attempt on his life. It seems that was a turning point in both his presidency and also how the majority of Americans viewed him.
While watching the assassination attempt I learned all these years later that Reagan was very close to death after the shooting. First because of blood loss and then because once in surgery....they could not readily find the bullet which had both penetrated and then lost itself in his lung. I don't remember thinking that he was that gravely hurt back then, but then again....I was a kid and it might simply have gone over my head. I do though remember watching his shooting being broadcast on the news and the anchorman only getting info from phone sources as we had no technology to move information at the speed of light back then. Because of this....it was originally broadcast that Reagan was not injured. What a horrible day for this country, the news media and most of all Reagan.
What seemed to turn the country around and give them a new appreciation for this man though....was how he handled this attempt on his life. Throughout the ordeal and even after, Reagan used his ever ready humor to show American's that number one....he wasn't dead yet and number two....that he would not allow this situation to stand in the way of who he was and how he did his job. In an amazingly short time, Reagan was healing and back on the job. While no president is perfect (after all they are human) Reagan seemed to have a pretty good handle on what America needed, what goals it needed to not only set but also achieve and what we needed to do to keep our reputation as a world power so that others knew we meant business and were not to be messed with. At a time when the push of a button could have had us in all out war in a matter of minutes....Reagan stood firm against the world and showed our enemies that Americans were not afraid nor do they back down. Apparently no one really wanted to test the metal of this actor turned president...especially when he started putting money....a lot of money into US defense. Say what you will about him, this man loved his country, the people and mistakes or not.....he ALWAYS had the countries best interest at heart.
In addition to our countries tough persona we were also showing the world that we were not only a free nation but also a free spending nation. Quickly leaving our thought patterns was the notion of saving and it was being replaced with the idea of "I want!" and words like disposable income. No longer was it just about buying to cover our needs.....now it was about buying to cover our wants. Malls were now dotting the landscape of just about every town and city in the country and not only non-essential but also fun products filled every shelf. It was the age of Mall Rats....a phrased coined to describe teens who spent every waking hour at the mall charging up their parents charge cards. It was also the birth of Valley Girls, although I never could quite figure out how Val's made it to Kansas. Gag me with a spoon!
The economy turned around and rather than feeling that a job was what one needed to survive, many started believing that a job was something we should enjoy. My dad to this day has never grasped that concept. In the 80's, if you didn't like what you were doing....you could just go out and start your own business. Capitalism and entrepreneurship were alive and well. Even hippies and flower children of the 60's who viewed big business and capitalism as dirty words were jumping on the bandwagon. With the countries new found disposable income....there was much money to be made.
Add to all of this the oil drilling of the 80's where people in Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and the like were striking it rich almost daily. Wealth was becoming not only attainable but greatly sought after. Shows like Dallas and Dynasty continued to perpetuate the idea that wealth and even greed were good. We all got the attitude that "He who died with the most toys was the winner," and we all wanted to be the winner. This era of achieved and supposed wealth also spurred the economy as we all wanted to dress like Sue Ellen and Alexis and we wanted to drive cars, eat, drink and play like both the Ewings and the Carringtons.
Yes....we got both our technology and much of our attitude from the 1980's. Billions were gained and lost in the stock market. Fortunes were made, lost and made again, and we got a taste for money and things and we didn't want to let go....even if the money wasn't there. Credit card debt began to rise as did bankruptcies toward the end of the decade. Having so much made us want more even if that more turned into vices such as drugs and pornography. We were constantly looking for that next big thing....that next high. We were becoming not only insatiable....but also....entitled.
From the 1980's was born the idea of home computers, software, cell phones, mp3 players, video games, CD's and DVD's. Also the 1980's gave us the notion that wanting was good, greed was a asset and money was a god whose altar we should worship at. We learned that work should be fun and that both fun and whatever we wanted was a right to be taken.....not earned. Both high spending and high debt were okay and in the end....some did seem to lose their souls as well as their money.
On the upside....the 1980's also reminded us how great this country is, that underdogs do sometimes come out on top and that even a bullet to the lung can't keep a good man down. We watched as other countries backed down and respected us and we saw a wall brought down dividing a country. We were proud to say the Pledge of Allegiance, fly our flag and bow our heads in thanksgiving to God for this great country.
The 80's were a roller coaster of highs and lows. I have heard many who lived through it say..."I hated the 80's!" I however never felt that way. To me the 80's were an integral part of my late teen and young adult years. I was a child of the malls...not the money. I loved the fashion....yes, even the bad stuff and I, like most of the country was fixated weekly on what JR would do next. I liked the big hair, the music, the movies and the optimism. It was a heady time where being an American felt great, capitalism was a good thing and new ideas and entrepreneurship were encouraged.
As I watched this series in its entirety....about 5 or 6 hours, I couldn't help but wax nostalgic and I was amazed at how much I had either missed during that decade or simply never knew. All in all though....it struck me to see the similarities of then and now...history repeating itself I guess. And after it was over I couldn't help but think....this country really needs another hockey win!