A day that will live in perspective

dejah and shoeJack was a crusty old guy, mostly sweet and with a wicked sense of humor. He had retired but still did an afternoon sports show at the small-town radio station where I worked.

I only remember one time when he was seriously angry. It was the day John Lennon had been shot, and everyone was in a state of shock. Jack wasn’t so impressed.

One of the younger disk jockeys tried to put it in perspective for him by saying that to our generation, the killing of John Lennon might have the same jarring impact that the bombing of Pearl Harbor had had the previous day, Dec. 7, 39 years earlier.

This did not sit well with Jack, who erupted with fury. We had no idea what that day was about, he said, if we really were going to compare that day with the shooting of some young punk on a New York street. Oh my, Jack was mad. And he was right. And, in a lesser way, so was our ill-advised colleague. It was a big deal. Just not that big.

It’s hard to believe that it’s now 37 years since that day – nearly as long as Pearl Harbor had been for Jack when the conversation took place. Now I know what it feels like to remember something that happened almost four decades ago when I was a young adult. If I dig into the memory deep enough, I can still feel the shock, tempered by the passage of time, with the biggest shock perhaps being how much life has happened in the meantime.