News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

September 3, 2013

LIZ CIANCONE: Today’s headlines, tomorrow’s history

TERRE HAUTE — Someone once said that a newspaper was a rough draft of history. It was probably Dr. Beatty, my favorite history professor. But, whoever it was could not have known how many rough drafts of history I was destined to experience.

This was brought home to me the other day when a friend related the story of a young nurse who, when told that her next patient was 101 years old, responded, “Golly! She must have been alive when President Kennedy was shot!”

Well, so was I, and I am not 101 years old — not yet.

I especially remember that gloomy day because it was the day which also marked the one-year anniversary of Dad’s death. I definitely did not need several days of mournful music on radio and television, but concede that a national period of mourning trumped my private need of a good sitcom.

There really is a difference between personal history and the history of events which mark a significant change in the world. Some headline events affect our personal lives as well as the lives of thousands of others. The bombing of Pearl Harbor springs to mind. Not only was the entire world plunged into war, but my brother, Ed, joined the Navy and was thrust into harm’s way in the South Pacific.

Some headline events, significant on a personal level, are delegated to history’s back pages. I remember as a child hearing a report of the death of Will Rogers in a plane crash. I ran down to the lake where Dad was cleaning the catch of the day to relay my headline tidbit. Rogers was a favorite of Dad’s, but I doubt that I’d find more than a handful of folks under 20 who would remember who he was and certainly not recall his claim to fame.

I recently finished reading the story of the three DiMaggio brothers, Vince, Joe and Dominic. They are all gone now and I realized with a shock that my memories of Joe’s 56-game hitting streak have become a part of baseball history. I still think of it as headline news. At least I gained a greater appreciation of the skills Vince and “Dom” brought to the game as big league players.

I treasure my tidbits of historic memory, but the Kennedy assassination? Good grief, that’s still too recent to be history.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter.

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