I mentioned the 1979 takeover by student militants of the US embassy in Tehran in a reply to Reene yesterday, and wondered whether I should explain it. It was 23 years ago, and some of the folks reading this weren't even born then.
That's a very odd thought.
I read an essay by a teacher a few years ago, describing a field trip by a junior high class to JFK's gravesite. The kids were cutting up, running around, teasing each other, flirting, and doing stuff junior high kids do. The teacher was shocked, until he thought about it, and realized that to them, the assassination of JFK was history. Something that happened years before they were born. Show respect? You might as well expect them to show respect at the grave of Millard Fillmore.
To my parents, New Deal liberals, the Spanish Civil War was a living thing, an element of their own history. The Loyalists, Franco, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, all were as real and alive to them as the current Iraq crisis is to us. These events were all tangled up with the rest of their lives in 1930's, their work and school and falling in love, the deaths of relatives, their struggles in the Great Depression. To them, Guernica was a shock and a tragedy, and a terrible intimation of things to come in WWII. To me, Guernica is a famous painting. To them, the Spanish Civil War was an epic struggle between Good and Evil, which Evil won. They hated Franco with passion. They would not buy Spanish goods until they died. At the 1964 World's Fair in New York City, almost 30 years later, mom refused to visit the highly-regarded Spanish pavilion. Why? Franco. To Chevy Chase and the SNL gang, Franco was a joke: "Generalissimo Francisco Franco, still seriously dead." To my parents, he was a living presence, an embodiment of political evil, a Hitler or Mussolini who had lived past his time.
To me, the Spanish Civil War is history. Interesting, as Waterloo or the Boxer Rebellion or the French Revolution are interesting, but history, cold, dead, nailed to one spot in the past before I was born. The takeover of the American embassy in Iran, though, for me is a living event, that went on for more than a year, and strongly colored American life at the time. It is bound up in my mind with the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the second oil crisis, the music of Blondie, the quiet despair that gripped America in the late 70's, the collapse of the Carter presidency, the collapse of my marriage, and my own decision to go into medicine. That decision, (odd though it may sound) was related to my perception of Western Civilization and all its post-Enlightenment values failing, as the Roman Empire failed, and being replaced by a barbarian horde of totalitarian Marxists on the left, and religious fundamentalists on the right. Medicine was my answer to the encroaching darkness. The embassy takeover is more than history, it is a part of me, part of what I was, and what I am.
But to most people who read this, it's just history. It happened when you were infants, or before you were born. That's okay. Everything becomes history.
And later, much later, everything becomes myth.
meaning: pull, draw
引力 == inryoku == gravitation
字引 == jibiki == dictionary
|'Bow' (弓) and a vertical line. The line has been interpreted as a bowstring, but also may just be an abstract character representing 'stretching'. Henshall suggests as a mnemonic: 'Bow with string waiting to be drawn.'|