March 31, 2017
It seems as if, in recent years, every generation gets to live through at least one brutal, world-changing event. The outbreak of World War I must have shattered the sense of a quiet, gradually progressive world for people in 1914.
I wasn't there for the first big war. But I'd arrived by 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. My family had gathered for a party at the home of one of my aunts. It was Sunday, and everybody was laughing and singing and suddenly the room got quiet. When I asked what had happened, one of my uncles pointed at the radio which had been playing the music. It was one of those large consoles. Someone was saying something about Pearl Harbor. I'd never heard it, but I recall thinking that it sounded like a great place to visit. The following summer we canceled our visit to Wildwood, whose beaches I loved. It had something to do with German submarines. At that point I became seriously annoyed about the war.
The second world-changing event for me was the assassination of Jack Kennedy. I got the news at Woodrow Wilson High School, where I was an English teacher. Everybody had liked Kennedy except the nitwit who took to shooting at him. I don't think we had the details then of how he'd managed to sidestep a nuclear war. I don't think modern Americans understand yet how much we owe to JFK.
I can recall at the time wishing I could go back a day and warn the Secret Service. Do something. The loss was brutal. And it didn't help to see his young son saluting at the funeral while Jackie tried to restrain tears.
Robert Dyke went a step further than daydreaming about time travel. He made a movie, TimeQuest, wrote and directed it, put together a cast of Victor Zlesak, Caprice Benedetti, Vince Grant, and Bruce Campbell. The script is brilliant, and I've never enjoyed an SF movie so much. A time traveler, living in the 1990's, is decimated simply from reading about the event. He goes back and prevents it.
The third disaster, of course, is the attack on the Twin Towers. Another case of innocent people killed by malevolent nitwits. As the years go by, I've become more struck by how little I understand of how the world works. But one thing I'm certain of: If there really is a judgment, I would not want to go to it and try to explain to my Creator that I helped kill a lot of people to make Him happy.