Where were you when…?

There are days in our history that we remember like they were yesterday. What we were doing, what we were thinking, and how we were feeling are clear to us decades later. We asked WCSC participants and volunteers to share some of those moments.

Pearl Harbor

December 8, 1941: Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his “Day of Infamy” speech to Congress, leading to a declaration of war against Japan. (Photograph: United States National Archives)

December 7, 1941: Japan Attacks Pearl Harbor

“[We had] just moved into our new house in Evanston, Illinois. I was downstairs painting … I had the radio on, and they began reporting that the Japanese were bombing Pearl Harbor. We continued as normal for a while, and then [it] came down like a ton of bricks.” —Jan Waude (WCSC participant), born when Herbert Hoover was president







November 25, 1963: John F. Kennedy, Jr., salutes the coffin of President John F. Kennedy before it is transported to Arlington National Cemetery for burial. (Photograph: Stan Stearns)

November 22, 1963: Assassination of JFK

“We were living in the Philippines at the time. It was a Saturday morning [there], and a kid came running down the street saying that Kennedy had been shot. We turned on the TV and found it was true.” —Diana Hall (WCSC participant), born when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president

“I was dismissed from school. I remember really not understanding. I didn’t understand why that could happen. The whole country mourned. The world shifted. It was kind of the end of the 50s, [its] simplicity, the Leave it to Beaver kind of times. Everyone was upset especially for minority people. Kennedy opened up a lot of immigration to [Southeast Asia] and was kind of a hero in those communities.” —Diane Wah (WCSC volunteer), born when Dwight Eisenhower was president

“I was in high school … in Wallingford. I went to Lincoln High School, and it was announced to my chemistry class … [it] came on over the intercom … It was just the unthinkable. It was very unbelievable … The picture seen in Life magazine with ‘Little John’ saluting his father brought tears to your eyes.” —Janeine Green (WCSC participant), born when Harry Truman was president


9/11 Memorial

Former US President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama visit the 9/11 memorial. (Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

September 11, 2001: Terrorist Attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon

“I was in high school in a student government meeting. I remember watching it happen on TV. I didn’t really realize the importance of it at that moment. It really made me think about what it means to be an American. I remember doing fundraisers where we sold pens and did bake sales, because everyone wanted to help. Definitely a turning point for me in the way I thought about the world as a child becoming an adult.” —Jerrod Gonzales (WCSC volunteer), born when Ronald Reagan was president

“I was working in Washington, DC. It was perfect weather. 75 degrees. When it happened, we all ran into someone’s office and saw the towers fall. I thought it was a joke. Some kind of weird stunt. Something like War of the Worlds. I couldn’t process it. Then I went back to the office, and I could see smoke coming from the Pentagon. My colleagues and I went to the roof of the building. [DC] was an instant traffic jam. A lot of panic and a lot of rumors about bombs in the metro. I walked home that day. After that, there was a lot of back and forth about freedom and do we give up some of that to be secure? The world has changed because of that.” —Christopher Novak (WCSC participant and volunteer), born when Lyndon Johnson was president