Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Historical Memory of Children

I'm too young to remember the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated, but I remember the assassination of Martin Luther King with crystal clarity. I was 9 years old at the time, attending a small Catholic school in St. Louis. The morning after King was assassinated, all of the nuns at my school were deeply upset, which puzzled me, because I was under the impression that Martin Luther had been assassinated. A little historical knowledge is a dangerous thing, and we forget what it was like to be young and have such a distorted understanding of history.

More recently, my daughter, who was also about 9 at the time, saw a Civil War sword owned by my father, and she asked him whether he had fought in the Civil War!


Alan Dooley said...

I am about your age, Bob. Honestly I do not remember him being assassinated, But if I had, I would have thought that he was our local famous radio announcer, who was Luther Masengil.

Kathy said...

I recall one Apollo mission, and not very well. But I do have a vivid memory of it. When I heard the name "Apollo-Soyuz," I thought to myself "Oh, that's what the Russians call their capsules!"

I also recall thinking, due to an ill-conceived model of the Solar System at a museum, that all the stars orbited the Sun!

Dr. Decay said...

So, 9 years old and you knew of someone named Martin Luther and that he didn't get along well with the Catholic Church? You also presumed that the nuns would have liked to see him dead? Wow. You knew an amazing (if distorted) amount about historical European religious tensions. What does this tell us about Catholic schools in the 1960's? Your name suggests German ancestry, did this, or just living in St. Louis (French heritage, German immigrants ...), perhaps also influence your worldview?

Robert Scherrer said...

St. Louis is (or at least was, when I grew up there) both heavily German and heavily Catholic. It affected the culture of the city enormously.