I was in the pay-phone booth on the main floor of Tillinghast Hall of Horace Mann School, calling the yearbook printer (and feeling very important that at 16 I actually had a reason to make a call to the real world). But instead of reaching the printer, I got an operator saying that my call couldn’t go through because of a national emergency: President Kennedy had just been shot. As no one else at the school was connected to the outside world at that moment, so far as I know, I may have been the first to know. I have a vague recollection of going across the hall to the headmaster’s office to share the sad news.

So much water under so many bridges since then — much of it increasingly positive in recent years. (For one thing, the water’s cleaner.)

I realize that where you were that day, in many cases, was NBY — not born yet. But it was one of the six most pivotal days of this American Century. My picks: Armistice Day in 1918, ending the First World War; the Crash in 1929; Pearl Harbor in 1941; VJ Day in 1945; the Kennedy Assassination in 1963; the Man on the Moon in 1969. Lots of runners-up (the RFK and King assassinations and Nixon resignation prime among them). But were there any other days marking our history that would have so grabbed our national emotions?

Your nominations welcome.

Tomorrow: Talk about your nutritional supplements!


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