Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Same memory, different decade

Recently I have been noticing some parallels in history between my generation of folks well into their 40’s and my parents' and grandparents' generations. For one thing, we are still complaining about the price of things such as gas and oil, much as my parents did back in the 70’s when there were oil embargoes and lines at the pumps. The stock market crash of the 1930’s was a direct influence on the economic times back then, while today the economic turmoil makes one wonder what is around the corner for us.

At dinner with friends a few nights ago, someone asked me “do you remember what you were doing when the towers got hit?” I didn’t even have to think about it; an instant flashback put me at my desk in my old office in the Annex building of the vet department. Our secretary, Donna, called me and asked what was in the World Trade Center in New York City. When I asked why, she said someone had flown a plane into the side of it. As the popular Alan Jackson song asked “Where were you when the world stopped turning, that September morn?” (http://www.countrygoldusa.com/where_were_you.asp), think a minute, chances are you remember exactly where you were, who you were with, and what you were doing.

In many ways, 9/11 will be the day of infamy that lives in the hearts of our generation much the same as another tragic day of infamy played out in Hawaii in 1941. And much in the same way as our parents and grandparents have reminisced about World War II, never letting the memories fade, we will sit and reminisce well into our dotage about 9/11. On a visit to Pearl Harbor, I took my place on a small boat which ferried groups out to the USS Arizona’s final resting place. I took comfort in the quiet, respectful behavior of the occupants of the ferry; not a word was spoken, and it didn’t need to be. The silence bore the honor for our fellow man, both then and now, who have died in pursuit of liberty and justice for all, much the same as the silence which surrounds memorials and monuments all around this great land that bear soundless witness to those who give all.

They say that history has a way of repeating itself, and if you think about it you see this every day. Take the white powder scare a few years ago. An envelope of Anthrax spores reached Senator Tom Daschle and Senator Patrick Leahy and soon law enforcement agencies around the country are besieged with calls about suspicious white powder being spotted everywhere from underneath Cousin Slim's deer stand to the streets of San Francisco and everywhere in between. I am not downplaying this episode of national security, but nationwide panic stemming from the power of suggestion is nothing new. Orson Wells did it with a simple radio program that got out of hand in October of 1938, suggesting that an invasion of Earth by Martians had occurred and triggering a mass hysteria of sorts. I wasn’t there, but I heard about it plenty of times over the years from - you guessed it - Mom and Dad; just like our grandchildren will hear about the Anthrax scare. People don’t change much, just ask an elderly Japanese American who remembers internment camps, or anyone of Middle or far-Eastern descent these days. Both are facing the same types of ethnicity-based challenges - six decades apart.

As you go through your day, take a moment and notice all the things that are happening in our old world today; it really is a series of repeat performances. The only question is: will we learn from our mistakes or be destined to repeat them? Until next time….

-Oreta Samples is the lead veterinary technician in Fort Valley State University's Veterinary Science department.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hopefully some of the people in the world have learned the lessons that we keep repeating. Perhaps someday we will all get the message and make the world a better place for everyone. We can but hope....