Often when dealing with big events in our family histories, like birthdays and anniversaries, we find ourselves sharing our most memorable dates with events on a much larger stage. This dovetailing of our personal histories with mainstream history sometimes colors the way we observe key moments of our lives.
For example, my father’s birthday is on November 22. As a young baseball fan when I was growing up, I took great delight in knowing that my Dad entered this world exactly one day after childhood hero Stan Musial was born.
But ever since November 22, 1963, Dad has shared his birthday with the somber anniversary of the day President John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas, Texas. To make matters worse, Dad’s father-in-law died on Dad’s 62nd birthday.
My maternal grandparents were married on July 4, 1920, in Denmark and arrived in this country the next year beginning a 61-year string of celebrating their wedding anniversary on the same day this country was celebrating its independence from Great Britain.
My own birthday falls on Nov. 3, which is election day when it falls on the first Tuesday of the month. My wife and I were married on April 4, 1970, exactly two years after the assassination of Martin Luther King.
My brother Ron was born on February 2, more widely known as Groundhog Day. My brother-in-law, Sam Hayes, has a Dec. 21 birthday, making him one of those unfortunate souls whose birthday is close enough to Christmas that he almost certainly came up short in the gift department as a child. These days we take comfort that Sam’s birthday falls on the winter solstice meaning that brighter days are immediately ahead.
It’s not just we ordinary people who find themselves bumped from the spotlight. The passing of noted English writer Aldous Huxley went practically unnoticed when he had the misfortune of dying on the day JFK was shot. And the death of actress Farrah Fawcett dominated cable news for a few hours on June 25 before it was swept aside by Michael Jackson.
Writing prompt for the day: How has mainstream history affected important dates in your own family’s history?
Flickr photo courtesy of donut_p.