Berlin Wall comes tumbling down (1989) Apollo I disaster: Grissom, White, Chaffee die (1967) First time you heard the Beatles (1963) Nixon resigns over Watergate (1974) Mount St. Helens erupts (1980) Katrina hits New Orleans (2005) O.J. verdict (1995) First Clay-Liston fight (1964) Miracle on Ice (1980) Oklahoma City bombing (1995) JFK assassinated (1963) John Glenn orbits Earth (1962) John Lennon shot (1980) Elvis Presley dies at 42 (1977) RFK assassinated (1968) Kent State shootings (1970) Woodstock festival (1969) San Francisco World Series earthquake (1989) Buddy Holly dies (1959) First man on the moon (1969) Princess Diana dies (1997) Three Mile Island nuclear accident (1979) Munich Olympics terrorist attack (1972) Reagan shot (1981) Shuttle Challenger explodes (1986) Martin Luther King assassinated (1968) JFK Jr. dies in plane crash (1999) Shuttle Columbia disintegrates on re-entry (2003) 9/11 attacks (2001) Asian tsunami (2004) Dale Earnhardt dies at Daytona (2001) Russians launch Sputnik (1957) Berlin Wall Beatles Katrina O.J. Oklahoma City JFK Lennon RFK Woodstock man on the moon Princess Diana Reagan Challenger JFK Jr. 9/11 attacks Earnhardt Beatles O.J. JFK Lennon man on the moon Princess Diana Challenger 9/11 attacks Beatles JFK man on the moon 9/11 attacks JFK 9/11 attacks
9/11 attacks
Co-editor Mark Reiter's Bracket
Read Reiter's introductory essay.
The O.J. verdict was a seamy miscarriage of justice that lured 150 million Americans to a TV in the middle of the workday—and then life went on. Hearing the Beatles for the first time is the fizziest contact high for several generations—like your first taste of champagne, chocolate, or sex. Beatles to the Final Four.
The Fab Four’s music hit American shores in 1963. So it is quite possible these two events happened on the same day for some people. But discovering the Beatles is a continuing process, JFK’s death is a precise moment of undiluted shock and grief. It’s how millions of people define “where were you when.”
National Guardsmen shooting unarmed students is inconceivable to young people today, but it made parents weep at the time. RFK’s death a mere two months after Martin Luther King’s murder still has people shaking their heads at what might have been.
JFK’s death proved that anyone can be killed. The 9/11 attacks proved that again, times 2,973. Of all these “where were you when” moments, 9/11 is the only one named for when it happened. We will never forget.
Two miraculous events within four weeks of each other in 1969. Woodstock was a galvanizing triumph for young people. Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk proved the grownups could step into the future too—with a much bigger stride.
Reagan lived. Di didn’t. Di moves on.
Sputnik, a major Cold War “terrorist” act when you consider the fear it inspired, is now long forgotten. Earnhardt’s death, while meaningless to many Americans, still lingers at every NASCAR race without the #3 car in the field.