Saturday, April 5, 2008

To Have Been Around When...

Life is made up of a series of what-ifs, and it's a topic that can be discussed for hours on end, especially by well-to-do (code for nothing-to-do) aristocrats. I found myself particularly transfixed by David Shribman's piece today, how of all places to have been a fly on the wall, he would have picked the Kennedy-Johnson VP conference of 1960.

In my case, I no longer think "To Have Been in the Room When" but "To Have Been Around When" Certainly, there are events from my lifetime that I wish I could have witnessed, such as the French Revolution and the 1802 day a stupid aristocrat drove his horses into Stonehenge, but here is a brief list of events I would have liked to have been around for:

1. The Victorian era, 1837 - 1901 - I still have a chance to see part of this, if Lady Catherine decides to bring me back. It just seems a golden period in British history. Could I meet Charles Dickens?

2. The Wright Brothers, 1903 - I would have loved to have seen the beginnings of flight.

3. The Holocaust, 1939-1945 - Specifically, the Concentration Camps, which make the greater injustices of my time seem like a poor day's hunt. I find it important for every human being to witness humanity at its worst, so as to never duplicate such maligned behavior.

4. Neil Armstrong on the moon, 1969 - I am still in disbelief. The thought of reaching the moon was beyond the realm of fantasy in my day. It truly stands as a monumental moment in human progress.

5. 1989 - Leonard Bernstein conducts the largest international orchestra in Beethoven's 9th to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall (actually on DVD). This may seem a trivial choice, but for a man of my time, few things can express a more surprising unification than the whole world playing Beethoven. I was privy to some of Beethoven's earlier symphonies, but I never heard the 9th. By the way, that was real music.

Oh, and one more:

October 26, 1947 - The day my dear Hillary graced this Earth with her presence.

2 comments:

Hans said...

Not the 6 events I would have picked, but I can see why you would. Don't go to Hillary's birth, though. Please. That's just creepy.

NY Phil Fan said...

The Bernstein concert was wonderful. It was how Beethoven ought to be commemorated. Great choice of references.