Where were you when President John F. Kennedy was shot?
Recently, I was asked, “Where we you when President Kennedy was shot?” I was five years, 1 month, and twenty days old. My parents and two siblings were living in Lamar, Colorado at the time. I can remember a time when I was crawling off the grass onto the sand where the pheasant were raised. I also remember a steel metal strip sticking out of the cement where boots were scraped before entering the house. My parents have assured me that these are two different locations in and about Lamar. Alas, I do not remember where I was on November 22, 1963 when John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas, Texas.
The person asking this question was stating that this was why I knew how to work computer software. Perhaps that is true. Although, I believe I have this ability because I was blessed to work for a company that was on the cutting edge of technology and attended college late in life. This company had one of the first fax machines. I graduated from an old upright electric typewriter to a new Olivette typewriter, with limited memory. This answering service was one of the first to convert to computers leaving the old switchboards behind. The man who ran the company had the large Motorola mobile phone in his car, and we answered and worked with the beepers that doctors used in the hospitals long before cell phone arrived. I even remember when the cable was being put in the ocean allowing internet service was announced. I could ask a similar question and believe I would get very interesting answers. Where were you when Elvis died?
This happened prior to the answering service going to computer, for me, when there were ten switchboards with eight ladies answering incoming and making out going calls. This was a messy day. When the news spread, all eight ladies were crying, everyone was red eyed. And the crying did not last for just a few minutes. It was more like an hour. Two of the ladies asked off work and headed to Memphis, Tennessee. The crying would erupt again when the shifts changed. There seemed no way to consoling these upset ladies. I can say the message spread a little faster with their help. On August 16, 1977 at the age of eighteen just before my nineteenth birthday, I was with a group of ladies, at a telephone answering service, who obviously loved Elvis.
I was in the United States territory of Guam in Micronesia. I was there as a missionary teacher to first graders. I had arrived in Guam on August 1989 at the start of the school year. I was living in Yigo, Guam, acclimating to the weather and the culture. The first thing that happened was the closing of Anderson Air Force base. No one comes in, no one goes out. The school and my living quarters were one mile from the front gate. I had nineteen students and over 50% were military children. Not, much of a class that day. The things that was most interesting to me about these days was I would call home and my family would tell me things like. “The President is not sending military people.” In Guam, the US territory, they were sending military people, by the hundreds, I had crying parents and children visiting me saying that both parents were being sent and they were to send their children back to the continental US. They were to get their will in order and not to plan on returning, there in Guam they were preparing for a Nuclear War. Telling the people that the war would be short and deadly. On an airplane ride a few years later, I was talking to a person who was in medical personnel at that time. He said they had sent thousands of body bags to Numberg, Germany because they believe there would be a large amount of deaths. I was also told later, by military personnel, that Operation Desert Storm was an arranged war to test the Scud missiles.
I was standing in the dorm, at a University, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was turning off the T.V. to go to class. I had just started college full time at thirty-eight years old. Having just returned from doing foreign mission in Bad Soden, Germany. I decided to do the college thing as if I were still a spring chicken. At 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 a terrorist truck loaded with a bomb drove into the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Killing two acquaintances and several friends. When the bomb went off the third floor of the dorm room in Tulsa, Oklahoma, shook almost knocking me off my feet. One hundred and eight miles away from my dorm, a building dropped to the ground, killing 168 people, nineteen who were children under the age of 6.
I was living in Canton, Michigan, teaching nineteen first graders. It was a school day, a Tuesday. Several strange things had happened that morning. On the way to work gas stations and food restaurants were closed. I had read the signs coming to work. Then during morning devotions, the school secretary had read a letter from a Muslim religious leader in Detroit, Michigan, saying, “I will pray for you especially on this day.” Our principal, who never missed work, was missing that day.” I had one child, who was part Iranian who was not in school that day. At 8:36 a.m., September 11, 2001. We were given a note to not allow the children outside today and to stay calm, do not talk about what you hear. We will send someone to give you restroom break shortly. Around 9:15 a.m. I was given my break. I went to the teachers lounge and was told what was happening, allowed to watch the videos of the attack on the news for about ten minutes. Then returned to a classroom of children for the remainder of the day. Two parents came and asked for their children to be removed to go home with them, otherwise, we continued our day as usual, without lunch and recess breaks.
Canton, Michigan is 25.9 miles from Dearborn, Michigan. Dearborn, has the largest population of Muslims in the United States. The police were alerted, they sent in military police to keep peace. One of my children’s father at the age of thirty-three had a massive heart attack and died in his sleep two days after the attack. The very next night one of my children’s uncles hung himself in the basement. I personally thought I was ok. Then a year later, my health broke, I had stomach problems, blood pressure problems and began visiting with a life coach. I had to go back to just being ME, not a teacher, not a daughter, not a sister, not a friend, back to ground zero just to be ME and breathe. I had to tell myself to breathe, first we get through this second, then this minute, then two minutes, and so on.
The gas stations and restaurants were closed because they were owned and operated by Muslims. The Muslim community had been warned and had taken cover. My principal had many Muslim friends and had a huge struggle to overcome. Was he to tell others and cause panic or keep it to himself? He chose to keep it to himself. (I am sure he was praying for us). What a terrible place to be. He had his family and himself safely tucked away.
This terrifying event killed 2,996 people, 25,000 people were injured, over ten billion dollars-worth of damage was reeked on Manhattan, New York and the World Trade Center, The Pentagon in Washington D. C., and the airplane that was hi-jacked over Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
I had attended church that morning, ate lunch, and laid down to my Sunday afternoon nap. I remember one lady going to the altar that morning rededicating her life to the Lord. A loud pop woke me at 5:34 p.m. thinking that it was lightening for the electricity had gone off. I called my sister who lived in Neosho, which is south of where the tornado hit. She told me she did not know what was going on, said our other sister was helping people at Wal Mart. That was the last time for several days I would be able to use my phone, for the phones were all blocked because so many were making calls or maybe I should say trying.
My home was in the basement of one of my sister’s homes. I went upstairs to see if anyone was home. No one was there. I then drove to Wal Mart which was not easy. Phone lines were down, there were people wondering around in a daze. Cars were mangled around telephone poles and buildings. I had to park about a mile from the store. As I walked to the store, I prayed with people, listened to people story and tried to direct them to safety. When I finally reached the store. The store was nothing but rubble. The police were there, but they were told to help only those in trouble not to do damage control. There were people looting the store and stores all around. I asked an officer if there were any casualties. He said one woman and her child. That they were still trying to get them out. There was one massive ball of cars in the parking lot. It was huge. It looked like a 100-foot transformer gone wrong.
Jumping to the end for there is much to tell of that day. The sister that was at the store. He loaded her SUV with people and was trying to get them to safety. Like I said, streets were closed, wires down, and debris everywhere. It took her hours to get them to the hospital, then to make her way home. The lady who had re-dedicated her life, when to be with her Lord and Savior that day. My sister’s home was not damaged, other than a few missing shingles from the roof, and her home was less than a mile from the route the tornado took.
So, that day Sunday, May 11, 2011, during an EF5 multiple vortex tornado with peaks of 250 mph winds. I was asleep in my bed. This tornado did 2.80 billion dollars of damage, 1,150 people were injured and 158 were killed.
That is where I am today as I am writing this. It is week three of quarantine. I am a teacher, teaching school via the internet to twelve students. I only get out when necessary. I live in Kyle, Texas, Hays County just outside Austin, Texas. The week prior to spring break the children were watching the news, staying on top of the outbreak. First it came from a camel, bat, or monkey. Then, it was created by the Chinese, Next, men who smoked were at risk, the outbreak did not like heat, then came the quarantine. The students who were at school took all their books home for their spring break.
I wear a scarf when I go to the grocery store, I sanitize my hands, wash my clothes when I return to my one-bedroom apartment, with a living room that is set up to teach school. I spend my weekdays, doing on line teaching, grading papers, preparing lesson plans, lessons and communicating with parents. Prior to the announcement that pets did not carry the disease people were dropping their pets off along the side the road. It was beginning to become a problem one week into the epidemic. I have three cats, was so happy to hear it was not affecting pets. At this point they have decided it was an epidemic created by the Chinese was from bats. It seems to kill those that have inflammation. Elderly adults are more at risk than children.
As of 4/10/2020 the global COVID-19 results;
1,677, 256 confirmed cases
United States results;
492,995 confirmed cases
Someday, in the future, someone might ask you Where were you when…?