Today is a day that will live in infamy for the Personal Computer/Cellphone (b. 1980 – 2000) and Net (b. 1990 – 2010) generations. Also commonly known as “Millennials,” the tragic school shooting in Columbine was the beginning of several that would tattoo these generations. From a kindergarten in Sandy Hook to a high school in Parkland, FL, these two generations would grow up in an age of terror (including their marker event on September 11, 2001). Nowhere would be safe. Mass shootings occurred at theaters, concerts, restaurants, workplaces, even church.
Today is a solemn day to reflect and remember how we felt 22 years ago. I remember coming home from a long day of work, flipping on the television to be confronted with the Columbine shootings. As I watched the streams of teens exit the school, tears rolling down their faces, in shock and fear, my heart was broken.
The innocence was now gone.
Today was the day that America had enough. A single shot set off a revolution that changed thirteen colonies into thirteen “united states of America.”
It also changed the world. In a year dozens of founding fathers would gather to formally declare independence from Great Britain (July 4, 1776).
The American story was just beginning…and today was a giant step forward.
Although connected to British games like “rounders” and cricket, American baseball was a novelty. A boys game that men played on a “field” in the cities.
It’s a game without a clock. A game of “threes” and “three squared” (bases, outs, innings, players). It’s the only game where the defense controls the ball.
It’s America’s game. Our original national past time. And it all started officially on this date.
“Take Me Out to the Ball Game” (original version)
If you grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, television anchor news was summed up in a few names…Brinkley, Smith, Rather, Reasoner…and “Uncle Walter” Cronkite.
Cronkite proved the most trusted and durable. He was there for Kennedy’s assassination and man’s moon walk. He was there for the civil rights and women’s rights movement. He was there for Woodstock and Watergate. He was also instrumental in turning the tide of the Vietnam War.
In 1968, Cronkite went to Vietnam to see the war for himself. He returned with a fresh perspective: it was time for America to get out of the conflict. His new view angered President Johnson, discouraged patriotic Americans who trusted their government and energized the anti-war movement.
It was the first time that a single man–in the national media–changed the direction of history. Indeed, after 1968, the Vietnam War became an American albatross and Cronkite’s admonition proved right…even righteous.
And today was the day the Cronkite era was launched.
And that’s the way it was.
A terrorist attack by two Muslim young men upon one of America’s greatest sports traditions instilled new fears into a culture still recovering from September 11, 2001.
The reality is the Net (1990 – 2010) and iTech (2000 – 2020) generations have grown up in an age of domestic terror. From Oklahoma City to Columbine to Twin Towers to Sandy Hook and Las Vegas, these younger American generations have seen a lot of bloodshed.
“Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun.”
This famous 1970s commercial ditty put McDonalds on the map, helped by the clown Ronald McDonald, the Hamburglar and, for the Millennial generation, PlayLands. Today the “golden arches” are one of America’s most iconic visual brands.
And it all started today in Illinois, thanks to Ray Kroc.
In 1947, in many U.S. places (from Birmingham to Philadelphia, Cincinnati to Little Rock), black Americans were segregated into “ghettos” and separated in public life. In the South, especially, blacks had to use different bathrooms, eat at different restaurants (or on different chairs), sleep at different hotels, ride at the back of the bus, and go to different schools.
There was a clear and present prejudice against the black.
Jackie Robinson changed all that.
Once white America saw how Jackie “could hit that ball,” it was no longer reasonable to wink at a Jim Crow culture and tolerate racism against blacks. Times were changing.
And it all started on this date in 1947.
P.S. Today, in honor of Jackie Robinson, every major league ballplayer will wear is uniform number: “42.”
The “Dust Bowl” got its name on this date (a.k.a. “Black Sunday”) when a huge windstorm blanketed the midwest.
America was in the heart of a Great Depression at the time. Could life be more miserable? The Dust Bowl would have one benefactor: California. With news of work and a better life in the Golden State, countless Americans migrated out of the Midwest to the west coast during the 1930s.
In the decades that followed, California would continue to rise like the bear on its flag, thanks to Hollywood, Dodgers and Giants, rock and roll, citrus and surfing.
But without that Dust Bowl migration, things might’ve been much different. It’s the rest of the story.
The sinking of the Titanic was a huge blow to industrial science and the promise of machines making life faster and better.
The Titanic was the fastest and best. It was reputed to be unsinkable, but it still sunk. For the oldest members of the Transportation and Telephone (TNT) Generation–born 1900 to 1920–this tragedy was a generational moment.
And it all happened on this fateful day.
The assassination of Abraham Lincoln was an unexpected first for America.
Four sitting presidents have been killed: Abraham Lincoln (1865), James A. Garfield (1881), William McKinley (1901), and John F. Kennedy (1963). Additionally, two presidents have been injured in attempted assassinations: Theodore Roosevelt (1912; former president at the time) and Ronald Reagan (1981).
Every assassination (and even attempted assassination) have been tattooed upon the generation that experienced it in its “coming of age” years (adolescence and young adulthood).