I posted before about important events I’ve witnessed from work, such as the tornadoes of 1974. Here are some later-day ones. Such as the TV movie “The Day After”. It aired in 1983, at the height of the Cold War. That movie really brought home the reality of what the aftermath of a nuclear exchange between the U.S. and the Soviet Union would be like. A friend called me immediately after it aired, nearly in tears. She was terrified. This shook a lot of people up. As it should have. We now know that in the late 80’s there was a computer glitch in the Soviet Union that showed us launching a nuclear all-out first strike. The Soviets only had a matter of minutes to retaliate. The Soviet general in charge of their nuclear forces was ordered by the Kremlin to do just that. There was no way for him to know if what he was seeing on his radar screens was real or not. But he went with his gut feeling that it wasn’t real and didn’t launch an all-out counter strike. So some nameless Soviet general saved the world. That’s how close we came. After that close call the U.S. and Soviet Union began de-escalating. That’s why to hear Trump today so cavalierly talk of restarting the arms race with Russia is so alarming.
Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998 came as no surprise. Everyone knew of all his many affairs prior to his election. But we’d hoped he could control himself while in office. Obviously not. He survived and finished his term, but none of us thought he should have. Lying under oath is am impeachable offense.
Does anyone remember the 2K event? When civilization as we know it was to come crashing to a halt at the stroke of midnight 1999? Didn’t think so. At the time personal computers weren’t so prevalent, so it didn’t make a big impression at work. But it sure made IT workers a lot of money.
9/11 made a much bigger impression, in 2001. I was at work the morning it happened. Randy V. told me about a jetliner crashing into a skyscraper in New York City. So I went with him into the break room to see the television coverage. This was around 9 a.m. We both thought it was just an accident. While we were watching the news, the second airliner hit the other Twin Tower of the Trade Center. The country had just been through a very contentious presidential election in 2000, what with counting all the stupid chads in Florida. This act of war certainly united the country. Everybody was behind the invasion of Afghanistan.
We were all behind the invasion of Iraq in 2003, too. Until no one could find any weapons of mass destruction. This was perhaps the biggest military blunder ever. Think how different the world might be today if we had finished the job in Afghanistan properly, instead of squandering our resources in an unnecessary war.
Then there was the financial crash of 2007. I know of no one I worked with who lost their home. But I’m sure a lot of us suffered. I know we nearly shut down our union pension with the Boilermakers because of it. But we voted to keep it solvent by contributing a lot more into it. But it was a very close vote. Of course, I’m glad we kept it solvent, since I am now retired and drawing from it.
That brings us to Trump’s election. Worst presidential election ever. Of course, the jury is still out on the results. Trump was fairly elected, no doubt. I didn’t vote for him, but I’m willing to give him a chance. See if Trump the President is any better than Trump the candidate. I have my doubts. But we’ll see.