Top Five: Historical Moments

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as the momentous inauguration tomorrow, today’s top five is: in no particular order (unless you wanna), which five events or moments in history strike a chord with you, inspire you, or otherwise give you the warm fuzzies? It has nothing to do with which you feel are most important, because I feel like that judgment would be impossible (for me anyway.)

My top five historical moments:

1. Rosa Parks on the bus- the fact that a regular person did a small act that was also a large, difficult act, reminds me that I, too, should be standing up or sitting down or whatever it takes to point out injustice and make things right.

2. Samantha Smith – In 1982, a 10 year old girl named Samantha Smith from Mancester, Maine wrote a letter to Yuri Andropov expressing her fear that a nuclear war would occur between the Soviet Union and the US. I was about her age and suffered similar nightmares. She was invited to go to the Soviet Union, and hearing about her trip was, seriously, one of the first moments when I realized that citizens of the Soviet Union were not monsters but ate breakfast and stubbed their toes just like Americans. It is also inspirational to me that a little girl could engage in dialogue with a world leader.

3. The invention of the printing press (so many books… so little time…)

4. Development of agriculture – the transition from a nomadic, hunting/gathering/gee-I-wonder-if-we’re-going-to-eat-or-be-eaten kind of community to a settled down, looking-out-over-my-fields-with-a-shotgun kind of life definitely appeals to me. I like me some illusion of security!

5. Obama’s victory – I know it’s not very imaginative, but I would feel dishonest leaving it out. I got a serious jolt of hope out of this past election, and I am eager for the country to get started on the next four years. I think it is a moment reminiscent of the 1960’s when people came together in a wave of energy to make things happen. Not the acid trips or the love fests, I mean the kind of action that came about through the inspiration of Dr. King and Rosa Parks and all the other heroes of the day.

So what moments in history move you?

9 Comments

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9 responses to “Top Five: Historical Moments

  1. Joy

    I didn’t answer this before because I didn’t want to be a wet blanket but came back because I didn’t want you to think I didn’t come and read you because I do. Every day.

    I don’t feel tomorrow is any different than any other president taking the oath. I did think Obama would take it more easy and I was “hoping” for “change” and thought he would tone it down some given our economic time and the millions of people who have been laid off and are out of work. But, I see he’s like all the others. Says one thing and does the other. I don’t think for one second that $126-$150 million dollars should be spent on something like this. I find it disgusting and I for one, won’t be watching TV at all tomorrow.

  2. el burro

    Hi Elena. Just wanted to say that I enjoy your “top fives” and even though I don’t often (ever?) respond to them, I love reading them. Keep them coming!

  3. 1. The publication of Harry Potter. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s just a book, and for some not even a good book. But it opened up an entire genre to people that had been in the background and got a zillion people to start reading. And it led the way for a lot of young authors and people who hadn’t ever thought of writing before.

    2. 9/11 – It’s a little cliche, but I think it’s valid. It was my generations “Where were you when…” and to watch all the people after it come together and help each other out was amazing. Blood banks were having to stop people from donating because they had so much blood they couldn’t use it all.

    3. invention of indoor plumbing, specifically the toilet. Lord save me from having to go outside and pee.

    4. any time gays are allowed to marry. I could rant about this forever, but I won’t since it’s not my blog. Suffice to say, if you love each other you should be able to get married.

    5. invention of the pill/birth control. This has had not a whole lot of effect on my life. But even though it has some negative consequences, I think it gave women a lot of control over their lives and actions, not just with sexual relationships, but also with medical conditions, etc.

  4. I have to agree with flygirld on some of these! When I first read your post title, the stuff that popped into my head were those “Where were you when events” This will put me in a certain age group but I remember, the Iran hostages being released, the Challenger explosion, when Elvis died, when Lennon was shot. But these aren’t inspiring or maybe the aftermath was – how people pulled together and everyone shared some strand of commonality, the same grief, or perhaps just a pause…

    On a less somber note, every time the power goes off, I am thankful that the water supply isn’t electric. Thank god to the guy who invented indoor plumbing and the citizens who decided every home in every town should have clean running water.

    And, I was thinking the other day about how great ESPN and the weather channel are. Remember when the TV channel choices and ideas were so exciting? MTV, woo hoo. Not so much anymore but when I was in HS, this was the coolest.

  5. Joy – I have to agree with you, the extravaganza is too much. But the little celebrations seem to be meaningful, like one of the local rec centers in the poorer parts of town is hosting a party with lots of entertainment and stuff, because people are so pumped. At least the exorbitant spending is reflecting the spirit of the people to some degree, although that feels kind of gross to say. Let’s hope this is the big out-of-control moment and then we get down to sensible business.

    el burro- I’m so glad you like them! I hope someday I think of a topic that will inspire you to share, too! 🙂

    D- Yes, those are exactly the kinds of things I was thinking of! They don’t have to be of monumental consequence to the world, necessarily, just to you personally!

    C- I’ll join you in your age category, although I don’t remember Elvis dying. I remember watching Challenger blow up live on tv in grammar school! That was sobering.

  6. I think it would be tough to pick my top five, but I will happily add five others to the mix that have not been picked.

    1. Having grown up in Bristol (UK) William Wilberforce’s fight, throughout the late eighteenth and early ninteenth centuries, for the Abolition of the Slave Trade through out the British Colonies would probably jump out at me as a pivotal moment in world history.

    2. I also think Emmeline Pankhurst and the Suffragette Movement’s efforts throughout the early twentieth century cumlminating in Universal suffrage for all adults over 21 in 1928 should be mentioned.

    3. Probably the most over looked is Einstein’s Annus Mirabilis. The outstanding number of scientific discoveries made by Einstein in 1905 and their associated follow on discoveries are still changing the world today, yet the only things non-geeks remember him for are E = Mc2 (with no understanding of what it means) and the atomic bomb.

    4. The attack on Pearl Harbor and the decision of America to join World War 2.

    5. And watching Nelson Mandella walk out of Prison after 27 years.

  7. stacybuckeye

    I’m late!
    1. 9-11 was definitely a life changing event for me. I was glued to the tv for at least a week as the horror seeped in.
    2. The election of Obama has restored hope in the American dream for me. For the last 8 years it seemed that a small group of people held all of the power and now it feels like the majority feel they have a say. (I don’t think they do, but isn’t the belief just as powerful?) Next up- a WOMAN!
    3. The printing press – you know that this one is important to me!
    4. The Vietnam War will always feel personal to me because my father was drafted and he still feels the scars to this day. You don’t have to lose a limb for your life to be marred by war.
    5. This isn’t one specific event, but a series of events…the courage of the first people who moved to ‘the colonies’ and what extraordinary sacrifices they made to start this great nation of ours. As I work on my genealogy I love coming across the personal stories.

    Elena-I love your number 2 story. I don’t remember that at all, although I do remember the terror of a possible nuclear war.

  8. 1. Ronald Reagan giving his 1987 speech at the Berlin Wall. There was just something powerful in his statement to “tear down this wall!”
    2. January 28, 1986. The Challenger explosion. I live in the Nasa community here in Texas. That day was just another day and we did not watch the launch. I did however have a classmate who got pulled out of class. He dad was one of the astronauts onboard that day. We knew something very bad had happened.
    3. July 13, 1985 Live Aid concert. It was great to see so many people come together for a common cause. What can I say, it was my generation’s version of Woodstock.
    4. Operation Desert Storm ~ This was for me the first time I had seen or felt the results of going to war.
    5. The invention of the drink coffee. No doubt my day would not get started right without it!

  9. Wow, three more great lists of historic moments… thanks for adding on here, Mr. Geek, Stacy and Just a Mom! This has been an especially rewarding top five for me.

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