Tricky things, anniversaries. A date in the past, do we mark anniversaries or do we celebrate them? Yesterday was my parent’s wedding anniversary. Seventy-one years ago, in the middle of The Great War, not the War to End All Wars, that was what we call WWI, this was WWII, my parents married and then honeymooned in Williamsburg, Virginia at the Williamsburg Inn. We visited Williamsburg with my parents back in the mid-eighties, when the girls were little. Tom has this great video of Mom and Dad, sitting on a bench in front of a field of red and yellow tulips, discussing how life was in 1942. It was a date we celebrated every year in our family.
This past week I watched the Frost/Nixon movies, about David Frost interviewing Richard Nixon three years out from The Resignation. I remember being in a restaurant August 6, 1974, the day of Nixon’s resignation and watching the family walk to the helicopter to leave the White House. The movie was interesting, about stuff surrounding the interviews I was unfamiliar with but the story I certainly knew, growing up in California, having Nixon come back to San Clemente. Besides that whole thing was bizarre, a sitting president involved so blatantly in a crime. Ol’ Tricky Dicky, hoisted on his own petard. I did agree with Gerald Ford when he pardoned him. There was too much trauma to heal without a pardon. Some, certainly, celebrated when Nixon resigned. Some were just sad.
There are other dates we mark, not celebrate. Strange that I know this, but the beheading of Charles I, January 30, 1649. April 24, 1916, the Easter Rebellion in Ireland. June 6, 1944, D Day and the beaches of Normandy. When I was in college it felt like you had to look far and wide to mark a date in history. Not so in the twenty first century. September 11, 2001 World Trade Center, the Pentagon and that field in Pennsylvania. March 20, 2003, the invasion of Iraq. May 20, 2010 the foiled Times Square Bombing. April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing. And how many in between that I’m failing to register? Markings, not celebrations.
These anniversaries will mark the children of this century, the way they view life and the way they pass on their view of life. These anniversaries will change our sense of comfort and our sense of achieving happiness. Let us hope that it doesn’t change our essential optimism and our world view.