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What's Your Earliest Memory of a Historical Event in Your Lifetime?


vcczar
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I'll share mine, and I hope others will share theirs. 

Even though I was born in 1979, I have almost no memory of what was then current events in Reagan's first term (certainly don't remember Carter). I don't even remember the 1984 election. My interests weren't on politics, current events, and my parents weren't around enough for me to hear them talking about them. 

As such, I have two candidates for earliest historical event memory, although it's possible I'll remember something from a year or two earlier. I remember the Challenger disaster, which happened in 1986. However, I can't recall if I learned of it when it happened or a year or two later. I certainly remember Black Friday in 1987, which was a major stock market crash. I also remember the Oliver North hearings from 1987, which was part of Reagan's Iran-Contra scandal. I think the earliest date of me being aware of politics or current events as history is then 1987, when I was 7 or 8 years old. That's kind of late, I think. 

I should note that during my childhood I was aware of the Soviet Union as the kind of Darth Vader of the world. I was fascinated with its size on the map and a lot of Russian/Soviet culture. I think my fascination with the USSR as a kid predates 1987, so I must have had current event memories I can't remember. I also remember being somewhat aware of terrorism in Lebanon and by Libyans. I think I had no knowledge of current events elsewhere. I was aware of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, and Diana. 

While my current events as a child was almost zilch, I did have an elevated knowledge of history for a 7 or 8 year old. I knew the names of all the presidents, what order they were in, and some general facts about them. I knew all the states and where they were. I knew where most of the countries were on a map. I had a basic knowledge of the history of the US, England, France, and Russia. By basic, I mean at age 8, I had a general idea of the different eras each of these countries went through in their histories, even if I hadn't detailed knowledge or complete understanding of what these eras meant at the time. 

While I remember many current events post-1987, I don't think I actively sought to read about them until about 1992 but not regularly until 2001. I was so focused on learning about the past, that I ignored the present. 

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Hmm, I'm a 2000s kid so I don't really remember anything before... 2008. (I'm 18.) Nothing of profound historical event that is. I don't even remember Obama being elected in 2008, but I do remember the economy being terrible. Great Recession, etc. I remember experiencing that and my parents talking about it. The first election night I watched and remember quite well was 2012, sitting on the couch with my Playstation Vita. I remember my father being so pumped for Romney and hoping he'd win Florida, which Obama eventually came around to win it barely... and then I remember his sadness. But emotions weren't too high in 2012 so life went on. I only hope we can return to those days. 😛 

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Just now, Patine said:

The first election of any relevance to me that I recall was the 1984 Canadian Federal election (the U.S. one of that year didn't really attract my attention, except for my uncle saying it's a "foregone conclusion," at some point. I didn't understand what he meant until a number of years later. The 1984 election was big here, because Trudeau (Pierre Elliott, the father of the current PM) was FINALLY retiring and whomever won, it was going to someone else. Even John Turner, the new Liberal leader, was set up (though it wasn't apparent to me at the time) to NOT be a Trudeau clone. The first U.S. election I followed at all, even tentatively, was the 1988 one.

Interesting. I wonder if your uncle said 88 was a foregone conclusion as well! 😛 

To be fair, it wasn't... at first at least.

By the time campaigning rolled around though... different story haha. 

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I think the first historical event that I can really remember is either the 2008 Presidential election. I was five years old at the time, so of course I didn't really care about politics. I remember seeing some of the DNC on TV, but not the RNC, for some reason. I liked Obama more than McCain because he seemed like a nice, cool guy, while McCain seemed like some boring, grouchy old guy, not to speak ill of the dead, but that's how my 5 year old brain thought of the two candidates. 

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44 minutes ago, Pringles said:

Hmm, I'm a 2000s kid so I don't really remember anything before... 2008. (I'm 18.) Nothing of profound historical event that is. I don't even remember Obama being elected in 2008, but I do remember the economy being terrible. Great Recession, etc. I remember experiencing that and my parents talking about it. The first election night I watched and remember quite well was 2012, sitting on the couch with my Playstation Vita. I remember my father being so pumped for Romney and hoping he'd win Florida, which Obama eventually came around to win it barely... and then I remember his sadness. But emotions weren't too high in 2012 so life went on. I only hope we can return to those days. 😛 

So you’re born in 2002 or 2003? Seems like yesterday. You’ve never known life outside of the War on Terror, internet, and cell phones. So strange. I’m glad I witnessed life before these things. Gives me a lot of perspective. 

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2 minutes ago, WVProgressive said:

I think the first historical event that I can really remember is either the 2008 Presidential election. I was five years old at the time, so of course I didn't really care about politics. I remember seeing some of the DNC on TV, but not the RNC, for some reason. I liked Obama more than McCain because he seemed like a nice, cool guy, while McCain seemed like some boring, grouchy old guy, not to speak ill of the dead, but that's how my 5 year old brain thought of the two candidates. 

Wow, I'm amazed you can remember 08 like that. I can't for the life of me remember anything about elections in 08. Not even the President at the time lol. I remember the Great Recession and Elementary School in 2008. 😛 

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56 minutes ago, Patine said:

@vcczar it's unfortunate these young ones, like @WVProgressive and @Pringles, never had printing and writing with pens and pencils and doing long-form mathematics on paper as focuses on their schooling, if touched upon significantly at all. I feel they're losing out on valuable, developmental skills... 🤔

I could have done without long form mathematics. 

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1 hour ago, Patine said:

"Yes, Virginia, there was a USSR, and I saw the last part of it." 😛

Despite being 12, and not 5, I had similar superficial and uninformed feelings about Dukakis over Bush in 1988. But I recall that Jesse Jackson was a very impressive speaker, but didn't quite understand why he, "dropped off the stage," suddenly in the middle of the process.

I remember liking Jackson in 1988. In the general, I was one of only 2 people in my 20 person class that was for Dukakis over Bush. 

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Definitely the 2008 election. I live in a small town, so most of my memories from the times are of my conservative grandmother talking about how much she hated Hillary Clinton and speaking ill of Obama. I can recall having one of those "elections" in school where everyone would "vote" for a candidate, I definitely voted for McCain as a 5 year old but I think Obama won?

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2 hours ago, WVProgressive said:

I think the first historical event that I can really remember is either the 2008 Presidential election. I was five years old at the time, so of course I didn't really care about politics. I remember seeing some of the DNC on TV, but not the RNC, for some reason. I liked Obama more than McCain because he seemed like a nice, cool guy, while McCain seemed like some boring, grouchy old guy, not to speak ill of the dead, but that's how my 5 year old brain thought of the two candidates. 

Same for me pretty much. I remember voting in the 'elementary election' for both candidates and I voted for Obama, which weirdly my parents didn't completely support (I learned years later my mom did in fact support him though). Kindergarten!

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@Hestia @Rezi @Pringles @WVProgressive

That's crazy you all were so young in 2008. It almost feel like it was only a month ago or something. I was still living in San Marcos, TX for the primaries. I saw Obama and Ted Kennedy (got to be with the hand shakers as a VIP when Obama was arrived.) I voted for Obama later that week in the primaries. I moved to NYC about a month later. I voted for him in the general. 

I remember discussing the 2008 election a lot. It was assumed, early on, that it would be Hillary Clinton vs. Rudy Giuliani. I wasn't fully committed to anyone, but I remember I liked Kucinich's platform the most. I ended up being more of a fan of him after the election was over, and I learned more about him. When it was down to Obama and Clinton, I didn't get on the Obama train until it seemed like he could win. I think it was about the time Bill Richardson and Ted Kennedy endorsed him. 

I heard about Sarah Palin being named the VP nominee through my roommate in NYC who heard about it on his radio. He didn't know anything about her other than that to him she was "hot." I had no clue who she was until SNL started making fun of her, and then I researched her more. One of my proudly Republican friends in San Marcos TX, who had voted GOP since Reagan, voted for Obama because of the Palin pick. He actually hasn't voted GOP since. In 2016, because of Trump, he officially switched parties, calling himself a Federalist Democrat. 

On election day 2008, I was so certain Obama would win that I was only casually watching the results while I was surfing the internet and was in a great mood. There was 0% anxiety. It was nice. Obama's victory speech was one of the greatest speeches of all time. Really rousing. 

I have no memories of my two first elections, 1980 and 1984. I have vague memories of 1988. Slightly clearer memories of 1992 and 1996. 2000 was the first election I was old enough to vote in and I voted, but didn't keep up too closely about the election. Since 2004, I've been pretty obsessive about keeping up with elections. That also coincides when I was finally politically awaken and interested in current affairs, rather than just history. I watched all the 2004 debates--primary and general. I think I only watched one presidential debate in 2000, maybe two of them. 

2008 is a great first election to have. You'll have something to tell young people in 50 years from now about your first memory of an election. 

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Hahaha...I was in Iraq on 2008 election night, and some of you weren't even in elementary school yet.  Oh my god, I'm ancient.  ;c)

As for me, my first historical event memory is probably Desert Storm.  I remember a classmate's dad coming in to talk to us after he came back from Desert Storm to talk about his experience and answer any questions.  I don't remember the actual discussion, I just remember thinking "Hey, isn't that the same thing MY dad wears?  Is he going to have to go to Desert Storm too?"

My dad did end up getting activated (he was in the reserves) and they were prepping for deployment -- but then the war ended before he had to actually leave.

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The first US Presidential election I can vaguely recall was 1992, Bush Sr vs. Clinton vs. Perot.  I remember people giving their thoughts in a class discussion in second grade.  I echoed my dad's sentiment that I didn't like Bill Clinton because if he can't even be faithful to his wife, how can he ever be faithful to us.  Then I added that Bush had already had a turn, so to be fair he should let someone else be President -- which left me with Perot.

I mistakenly believed FDR was the only President to ever be re-elected (rather than the only one to serve more than two terms), so I thought that was a cool record that shouldn't be broken and thus Bush Sr. should become better at sharing.  ;c)

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11 minutes ago, MrPotatoTed said:

Hahaha...I was in Iraq on 2008 election night, and some of you weren't even in elementary school yet.  Oh my god, I'm ancient.  ;c)

As for me, my first historical event memory is probably Desert Storm.  I remember a classmate's dad coming in to talk to us after he came back from Desert Storm to talk about his experience and answer any questions.  I don't remember the actual discussion, I just remember thinking "Hey, isn't that the same thing MY dad wears?  Is he going to have to go to Desert Storm too?"

My dad did end up getting activated (he was in the reserves) and they were prepping for deployment -- but then the war ended before he had to actually leave.

 

1 minute ago, Patine said:

I was already in Junior High when that one hit (one of the ONLY TWO victories of the vaunted, over-funded U.S. military machine post-WW2, because of it was one of only two that embraced the winning formula I've brought up before). I was with a youth counsellor on August 1, 1990, about 14 or so, and he sent me to grab a copy of the Edmonton Sun (a local tabloid-format newspaper here), and on the front page was Saddam Hussein in his uniform, maroon beret, and cigar, with his thick moustache (I'd seen his face once before in a 1988 Iran-Iraq War news article) with the screaming caption, "IRAQ INVADES KUWAIT." At that time, I already knew what Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia (very loosely speaking), and where they were on the map. My counsellor just matter-of-factly said, "this is going to be trouble, and no mistake."

I have three strong memories from when Desert Storm happened: 

1) I was in elementary school, and we had to sing "We are the World" and other songs on a cassette tap to give to the soldiers. We also had to write letters to my teacher's friend Major Behr (Bear, Baer, sp?), who I think was promoted to Colonel at some point. I was in 5th grade, I think. 

2) I used to go to a sports card store regularly, generally to buy football cards, but they also sold Desert Storm cards by two different companies. I think it was Pro Set and Topps, but I'm not certain. I bought cards from both sets. I think I had most of them. Cards of the Bush administration, weaponry, jets, world leaders relevant to Desert Storm, etc. I even had Saddam Hussein's card. The first time I ever heard of Dick Cheney was through these cards. 

3) I rented NES and SNES games regularly as a kid. I saw a Desert Storm-themed game, politically incorrect by today's standards. You play as GHW Bush, who is kind of like a Mario character who single-handedly kills a bunch of stereotypical Arabic-looking people. I only rented it once. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Secret_Storm

 

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1 minute ago, vcczar said:

 

I have three strong memories from when Desert Storm happened: 

1) I was in elementary school, and we had to sing "We are the World" and other songs on a cassette tap to give to the soldiers. We also had to write letters to my teacher's friend Major Behr (Bear, Baer, sp?), who I think was promoted to Colonel at some point. I was in 5th grade, I think. 

2) I used to go to a sports card store regularly, generally to buy football cards, but they also sold Desert Storm cards by two different companies. I think it was Pro Set and Topps, but I'm not certain. I bought cards from both sets. I think I had most of them. Cards of the Bush administration, weaponry, jets, world leaders relevant to Desert Storm, etc. I even had Saddam Hussein's card. The first time I ever heard of Dick Cheney was through these cards. 

3) I rented NES and SNES games regularly as a kid. I saw a Desert Storm-themed game, politically incorrect by today's standards. You play as GHW Bush, who is kind of like a Mario character who single-handedly kills a bunch of stereotypical Arabic-looking people. I only rented it once. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Secret_Storm

 

My grandfather had a bar in his basement, I remember he had an ashtray with Saddam Hussein's painted face and some kind of inscription like "Kiss My Butt".

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I was two years old in 2008 😄. The 2016 election was really the first "historical" event I could remember (Even then I was ten), and was when I started getting into politics. Who I supported changed wildly but I always had a hatred for Hillary & Trump. 2016, 2017 was my political heyday in my personal opinion. 

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8 minutes ago, Cenzonico said:

I was two years old in 2008 😄. The 2016 election was really the first "historical" event I could remember (Even then I was ten), and was when I started getting into politics. Who I supported changed wildly but I always had a hatred for Hillary & Trump. 2016, 2017 was my political heyday in my personal opinion. 

Two years old in 2008! Wow. That means you were only 14 during the 2016 election, that's kind of young to really "hate" someone for political reasons, unless they really personally traumatized you. I'm sure you have your reasons. When I was 14, it was 1993. I think I had no developed love or hatred for either party, even though I kept up with this election. I think my opinion of the three candidates was, GHW Bush looked boring and nerdy, Bill Clinton was cool because he played a saxophone, and Ross Perot was funny. I think had I been 14 in 2016, thinking back to how I thought at the time, I'd probably still favored Hillary Clinton to Trump, primarily because Trump reminded me of people at my high school, especially the bullies. I think I'd have no real reaction to Hillary Clinton. I'd just be glad she wasn't Trump. 

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9 minutes ago, vcczar said:

Two years old in 2008! Wow. That means you were only *(10)14 during the 2016 election, that's kind of young to really "hate" someone for political reasons, unless they really personally traumatized you. I'm sure you have your reasons. When I was 14, it was 1993. I think I had no developed love or hatred for either party, even though I kept up with this election. I think my opinion of the three candidates was, GHW Bush looked boring and nerdy, Bill Clinton was cool because he played a saxophone, and Ross Perot was funny. I think had I been 14 in 2016, thinking back to how I thought at the time, I'd probably still favored Hillary Clinton to Trump, primarily because Trump reminded me of people at my high school, especially the bullies. I think I'd have no real reaction to Hillary Clinton. I'd just be glad she wasn't Trump. 

Well I guess not "hatred" per say, more dislike. Hillary just rubbed me the wrong way, and my dislike for Trump was mostly just from the people around me really (I'm in Los Angeles so you could see why). But it's not like he was any great anyway with hindsight in mind.

Edited by Cenzonico
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I think one of my early political/cultural memories is of John Paul II visiting the US. It was a big deal. This had to have been the 1987 visit. It was my first historical memory, but it was one of the early ones. 

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I vaguely remember the 2004 election, I remember my father being too nervous to watch the results come in. 

I was born in 1999. The first historical event that I remember is probably Hurricane Katrina. I remember watching the news coverage of the disaster 

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The earliest historical event I have a good recollection of is the election of Pope Francis. It was during class (I can’t remember what grade exactly, but elementary school for sure.) Our teacher had interrupted the class and brought in a live Television broadcast of the Vatican. We weren’t that interested because we were kids, but she told us to pay attention because these sorts of things happen “Once or twice in your lifetime”. As we watched the smoke came out, and the people around the Vatican started cheering. We then watched the rest of the broadcast for the duration of the class as Pope Francis came out and did his speech. I was alive for the Obama election, capture of Osama, Hurricane Katrina, and 2012 election. However for whatever reason this is the oldest historical event I can recall very well.

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1 hour ago, Zenobiyl said:

The earliest historical event I have a good recollection of is the election of Pope Francis. It was during class (I can’t remember what grade exactly, but elementary school for sure.) Our teacher had interrupted the class and brought in a live Television broadcast of the Vatican. We weren’t that interested because we were kids, but she told us to pay attention because these sorts of things happen “Once or twice in your lifetime”. As we watched the smoke came out, and the people around the Vatican started cheering. We then watched the rest of the broadcast for the duration of the class as Pope Francis came out and did his speech. I was alive for the Obama election, capture of Osama, Hurricane Katrina, and 2012 election. However for whatever reason this is the oldest historical event I can recall very well.

The seems like yesterday to me. I watched that papal election. I watched the papal election of Benedict. I watched the funeral of Pope John Paul II. I remember Pope JP2 when he was relatively young in the 1980s, including when he was hitting baseballs with 100% accuracy with the bat. I'm not Catholic but I keep up with them for some reason. 

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