I know what happened twenty years ago today in Eddington, PA. Jon and I got married. But I became curious today, to see what was happening elsewhere in the world, while my attention had been focused on the big event in my own little world. Wikipedia tells me that Imre Nagy, the former Hungarian prime minister who had been executed in 1958 (on this same date) along with other leaders of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, was reburied. Hmm, never heard of him back in 1989 either.
Other events in 1989 are more memorable. I certainly knew when George H. W. Bush became president. I remember reading about how Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the death of Salman Rushdie for his book The Satanic Verses – though at the time I had no idea that the title referred to verses in the Koran (I assumed Rushdie had written a book of poetry that extolled evil in some way). I heard about the Valdez oil spill and its destructive environmental impact.
I learned about the protests in Tiananmen Square, and I remember the famous photo of a single man halting the advance of tanks. I remember going to see Batman shortly after it came out, along with my husband and one of his friends (they thought it was great; I hated all the scenes with the Joker and hoped to avoid seeing similar films in the future). I vaguely remember reading about Hurricane Hugo, but that was before my sister-in-law moved to South Carolina and I didn’t know anyone who lived there.
I remember hearing the news that the Berlin Wall was being torn down, and that communist regimes in eastern Europe were toppling. Having grown up during the Cold War, and having read many stories of the brutality of the Communists, I welcomed the news but found it strange to try to think of the world without that particular threat.
There are other events from 1989 that I paid no attention to at the time. In February, the first GPS satellite was placed into orbit. If I even heard about it, I couldn’t imagine why I would care. In August, Nintendo introduced the Gameboy to North America. If I knew about it, I would have thought it a foolish way for anyone to spend their money. Some things didn’t even make the news at the time, such as a proposal by Tim Berners-Lee to link hypertext documents that could be accessed via the internet (which I hadn’t heard of either).
All of that seems so long ago now. (And to my sons, such events are as distant and unknown as the Korean War was to me as a child.) At 47, I hardly feel old, but a review of just a few historical events makes me realize how much younger I was at 27. (Looking at my engagement picture does that too.) And the twenty years since then have been so full of events, both for the world and for me personally, that I find myself marvelling that some things haven’t changed much at all.
I still love to read, both for entertainment and learning – even if much more of what I read today is stored on CDs and computer disks rather on paper. World peace is still threatened by leaders in parts of the world where rule is by force rather than democracy, even if the world’s hot spots have shifted. Summer starts with blockbuster movies. New digital technology hits the stores and opens people’s wallets.
And my husband and I love each other, and look forward to spending the rest of our lives together.