It seems like every other day there is some historic event that conjures memories. Like the defining date of my generation, 9/11. Each year I remember precisely where I was when the world changed. It’s one of those moments that “you’ll never forget”; the kind that you couldn’t even if you wanted to.
Days like these become lessons in the history books of our children. My generation, possibly, and definitely those that follow have a vast visual and audible library of these moments available to them. Not just news footage; personal videos and words written right then, accessible to all.
As humans we still seek that human connection and there is nothing to imbue the realness like knowing a person who was there, who lived that day, took a video, felt that experience and talks about it.
My kids can’t quite believe that I was alive “when”. They are also the same children who questioned if color had been invented around the time I was born. After all, they reasoned, all the “old” photos are in black and white. The irony is that I believed the same about my own parents.
And I asked similar questions of them: “Where were you when JFK was shot? Do you remember watching the Vietnam War on TV?” My father would tell the story of his mother remembering the day that FDR died.
We create connections to history through our loved ones who lived that history.
We are gifted with incredible technology that not only allows us to document what’s happening in that moment, but also to characterize our personal experience, making it a relevant part of history. Video and audio recordings, speech-to-text, conveying our emotions and feelings simply by pressing “share” – at our fingertips we have the tools we need to tell our version of the story.
Anniversaries like today serve not only to remind us of unforgettable moments in time, but to connect with others who lived it with us. As importantly, it’s the occasion to share what this day meant, to live it and to learn from it, so that future generations understand its importance.