Monday, November 26, 2012

Where Were You When?

This past week many of us were reminiscing and playing the game “where were you when?”  This was particularly significant since November 22nd was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. 
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I came across tickets dated November 21, 1985.  Where were you on what may be recognized as one of the most important dates in history? That evening, Debbie and I were seated in the House of Representatives gallery  We took a trip to tour our Nation's Capitol and when we visited with our good friend Congressman Sam Gejdenson, he asked if we’d like to attend a rare joint session of Congress, quickly convened that morning for an address by the President.  I remember the event vividly.  To this day I’m somewhat dismayed at what I perceived the lack of respect some of the stalwarts of my Democratic Party displayed prior to the President’s arrival.  Senators such as Ted Kennedy, Chris Dodd and Gary Hart, bantering and joking amongst themselves – I could almost read their lips as they downplayed the significance of the joint session called to report the meeting between the President and the leader of the Soviet Union.  Up until that time, I can honestly say I wasn’t a fan of the President, but when the Sergeant of Arms, in his gravelly voice pronounced, “Mr. Speaker (then Tip O’Neill from our neighboring Massachusetts) the President of the United States,” I saw the face of victory, President Ronald Reagan’s, beaming like a Cheshire cat.  Several minutes later, smug faces and jaws dropped and a bi-partisan cheer erupted as Reagan announced he had stared down the Soviets and Mr. Gorbachev had blinked.
That evening, the doomsday watchers turned the nuclear clock back an hour and from there we have witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union and Communism, the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and fall of the Iron Curtain.  So in a small sense, East Hampton was there!  Oh - as for my initial question – Mr. May’s American History class.