Bombs Away On Memory Lane
If you ask people where they were on 9-11 they can tell you exactly. If they were alive on November 22, 1963 they can tell you where they were and how they felt. But what do you remember about all sorts of other seminal events along the way? What left a mark on you and your life?
I remember October 14, 1978 for sure. You see growing up my parents who both graduated from Michigan State were Spartans but brother Shane went to Michigan and he took me there for a game in 1976- in the student section. That is one crazy place for an 11 year old kid! As a result of the Wolverines crushing Wisconsin 35-0 and all the craziness that went with it, I became a fan. Well, in 1978 I was home with my mother listening to the game on WJIM 1240 AM and Michigan was supposed to win. But Eddie Smith, Kirk Gibson and some other guys had other ideas. In the fourth quarter I just couldn’t take it anymore and with Michigan State leading 24-15 and Michigan just couldn’t muster the fight it needed to come back. Sullen, I went out in the yard. I was out there for a few minutes kicking the ground and throwing sticks when I suddenly heard car horns honking. Lots and lots of car horns. That’s when I realized a whole lot of folks driving on I-96 were listening to the game too and the Spartans had won. It gave me an appreciation of sports and rivalries that I have embraced ever since.
What moments stick out in your mind?
Sure the Challenger disaster and Ronald Reagan’s address to the nation that night in 1986, I remember well. I remember counting down to Y2K when at the stroke of midnight exactly nothing happened.
On April 19, 1995 I was the only news anchor at a local TV station when the news wires began to go crazy. Chirp, chirp, chirp…tick-a-tick-a-tick-a-tick. Reports of a massive explosion began to cross the wire from Oklahoma City. I was sent to the news desk to begin reading reports on the air as they came in. In those days you didn’t have the ability to go live from just about anywhere with a cell phone so I was the guy doing the wall-to-wall coverage waiting on NBC to get a team together to go live. I was out there for more than an hour. Producers rushing in to hand me scraps of paper while others were talking nearly non-stop in my earpiece, better known as an IFB. Every few minutes the horror that was playing out in the heartland was beginning to play out for everyone. It was a terrorist attack I thought even back then but it turned out this killer we reared right here at home. About an hour into the non-stop monologue with a few pictures to help I was handed some AP wire copy that I read cold. That is to say- they gave it to me and I began reading with no idea where it was going or what I’d be saying. We were learning about the bombing together. That report went into detail about a childcare center in the Murrah Federal building that had been on the main floor near where the truck bomb had gone off. I tried to stay on course but my mind was fighting within itself. I read slower about the young children apparently lost in the explosion- all of them. They were simply gone. Nobody could say but it was clear they had all been shredded by the evil intentions of a man whom we did not yet know. I began to sweat and my hands became cold as I thought about my own young daughter only 5 or 6 at the time. Tears welled in my eyes. I had to stop and collect myself on live TV. It was a very emotional moment that reinforced in me the importance of things in life and what really matters. I collected myself after a few more moments but I have never forgotten how I felt that day and I am sure I never will.
The second time I got tears in my eyes on live TV was very different. I’d been sent by NBC to Florida to watch Senator John Glenn get lifted into space on mission STS-95. I had gone to Houston for background and interviewed the 77-year old living legend before the big day a couple of times. But when those massive engines fired up about a mile and a half from where I stood on the news deck I was over taken with pride. Pride in my country, pride in John Glenn, just damn proud to be there and witness such an incredible spectacle pulled off by the best people in the world, Americans. When I turned to the camera I got a little something caught in my throat giving my live report- the news anchor on the other end Gail Hogan even remarked about my emotions. “Steve it seems you’re a little choked up.” I looked in the camera and told her how proud it made me to be there and to be an American. It’s the same way I feel about things in America to this day.
I am proud to be an American even when things aren’t going very well for our country. I am proud to look across the farms fields and lakes and oceans and to look my neighbors in the eye. I am proud that I grew up here and that we as a people are the most generous, loving and giving people the world has ever known. I am proud for the freedoms this nation grants to it’s citizens and I proud there are those so taken by all of it that they will lay down their very lives just to defend it. I am proud of my wife and I am proud of my kids and damned glad they are here too.
From the serious to the silly I can remember many of the moments that have shaped my life, and I’d like you to share some of yours.
Here is a list to get you thinking about it:
Miracle On Ice
Man on the Moon
North Carolina State Over Houston
The Spartans 1978 Basketball Championship
The Blizzard of 1977
The Michigan/Michigan State Game last year
The Fall of the Berlin Wall
Reagan Getting Shot