Where Were You When Moments (Boomer Edition)
By Mark Reiter

“Where Were You When” moments tend to involve death—via natural disasters, hostile acts, the unexpected passing of very famous people, or bad things happening at NASA. Seldom happy events, such as the first time you heard the Beatles (for me: at age 11, in an orphanage in Hershey, PA, it was a reel-to-reel tape recording my brother made from a shortwave radio broadcast of “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” still the most thrilling sound I’ve ever heard), they tend to be memorable because you witnessed or heard about them on television. Our criterion is simple: How deeply has the event singed itself on your memory? For an older generation, the death of FDR, VE Day, Hiroshima, and “Have you no sense of decency” are surely indelible. So we established a cutoff date at 1957, using a rough rule based on whether Tom Brokaw (born in 1940) would remember where he was when.

MARK REITER, the coeditor of this book, was in Mr. Kleinfelter’s health class in Hershey when he heard JFK was shot. On the morning of 9/11, after landing at 5:45 a.m. at Newark International on a red-eye flight from Los Angeles, he was standing on Manhattan’s Sixth Avenue, looking south with thousands of New Yorkers, as the second tower came down.