Monday, November 22, 2010

From memory to history: JFK, 47 years later

Today is the 47th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

"Where were you when JFK was shot?" When I was growing up, it was something I heard asked of my elders from time to time as the classic cultural touchstone moment. Everyone remembered; the tragedy crystallized mundane tasks like grocery shopping or routine experiences like sitting in an 11th grade language arts class into moments frozen in time and space.

Where were you when JFK was shot? I'm guessing a great many of you, especially you students, were... well... wherever I was. Not present. (I experienced the same sort of freeze-frame in my life when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, for which I know most of you students still weren't around, and much more so on 9/11).

I read an interesting article today in The Dallas Morning News Online about the Sixth Floor Museum, and how it is transitioning from preserving the history for those who remember to explaining the event to those of us who weren't yet born.

"We're at a pivotal moment right now," said Nicola Longford, the museum's executive director. "We're changing from memory to history."

USA Today's site has a great special section today on JFK's America.

If you're interested in the subject, don't neglect your library's resources. We have a number of excellent books, e-books and videos. I recommend the database American History in Video from Alexander Street Press for their selection of contemporary newsreels associated with the assassination and also some great documentary programming from A&E and PBS.

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