There’s a widespread and pretty much true idea that everybody of my generation remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing when they first heard that President John Kennedy had been shot. Yes, I do, in vivid detail. My eighth grade English class spelling test was interrupted by the school principal who had come in to tell us the terrible news. The word our teacher had just told us to spell was the word “extraordinary.” I saved that incomplete spelling test with that last word, but over the years I lost it. No matter. The memory is far more indelible than the ink on the paper.
Since then, the precise moments of important historic events that were less shocking and painful I don’t recall as intensely unless I was somehow involved with them. I remember them if somehow I was taking part on the stage, even if only as an extra in the background, instead of just a passive observer in the audience.