Where Were You 35 Years Ago?

We often have time and place specific memories.

Mt St Helens before erruptionOn a certain date we knew exactly where we were. Some memories are indelibly printed simply due to the maturity and possibly the effect the event had on us. For example, I remember my wedding day nearly 41 years ago. I can take you to the place where I got my haircut on Broadway. The house we were married in. The minister. Just about every detail that I was involved in.

Yet, I cannot tell what your memory of that date was! July 3, 1974… Quick. What do you remember about that date?

I remember the morning I heard of the 9/11 disaster. A phone call before leaving for work changed my day, and the perspective of New York. I had been inside the World Trade Center when traveling to NY for business. I had watched the thousands coming out of the subway tunnel escalators. I had eaten breakfast at the “Windows of the World” in the North Tower on the 107th floor. Then taken a stroll on the top of the tower that early morning before work.

Sure wish I could find my film from that trip!

Mt St Helens 05181980But, and I find this reason strange, I have no specific memory of this morning 35 years ago when Mt St Helen’s blew with staggering force and devastation. I think my dad was flying to and from Alaska that day, or the day after.

What I do remember was six months later as we moved to Anchorage, and the warning to take many windshield wiper fluid containers as possible as we passed through Oregon and into Washington. I bought three, if my memory serves me correctly. It was not enough.

The cleanup was still going strong six months later. Rain was falling. Big trucks were running. Ash and debris made me wash my windshield every few minutes.

That’s my memory. Not that 57 people died. Or that communities, valleys, businesses, homes, wildlife and domesticated animals suffered. Or even the wild number of board feet destroyed by the force of the blow that laid down entire forests, or strangled rivers and lakes.

Mt St Helens TodaySince living in Washington for nearly 12 years, we have made numerous trips up and down I-5, the only north/south interstate that takes you from Canada, all the way nearly to Mexico. We have seen the mountain. In it’s present state. We have driven on the south side and enjoyed the returning vegetation and wildlife. We have been to the visitors center on the north side and studied the mountain as seen from the open wall.

Regardless of the view, it can simply take your breath away to experience the force of the eruption these 35 years later.

I get why we celebrate certain events. Pearl, D-Day (and all the other coded battles), assassination of leaders, you know, all the momentous and tragic days. We celebrate Memorial, Labor, Independence and all the other important birth and death dates. It cannot be for the enjoyment of a day off. Right? I think that if we can understand the event, then perhaps it will never happen again, or, to say the least, we will have a better handle on how to respond at the next event.

Now, your homework. Think back to momentous days of your own. What do you remember? What would you like others to know about that date that rings in your mind right now….

I was asking mom about some timing of life’s events just last night. When we moved from here to there, what were the dates? Why can I remember some things, and not others? Who was involved in our life at this time? What church did we go to? Who was our pastor?

The older I get, the more these dates seem to be important. No, they are nothing like 05/18/80! But they do hold some value! You better start recording your journal of life before life can not give you any answers!



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