With the roll-out of the first covid-19 vaccines in both Canada and the U.S., with the Electoral College south of the border confirming the November 3 presidential results, Monday was definitely a “feel-good” day for a lot of people.
But was it “momentous” or historic as many have suggested (at least, in media reports)?
What makes a day “momentous,” a game-changer? That’s what my mind’s gears began turning around when I heard that word being used to describe Monday.
I thought back to the big events in my history—those days where one can say “I know exactly where I was when . . .”
Going waaaay back, I remembered the assassination of John Kennedy (barely). I remembered exactly where I was when Neil Armstrong made that first step on the moon, where I was when the end of the Vietnam War was announced (studying in the U.S. at the time). I remembered where I was when Paul Henderson scored the winning goal against the Russians, when Lady Diana was killed in the car crash.
Were any of those events “momentous”? Did Kennedy’s assassination change the world, or America in any substantial way? Did July 20, 1967 signal a change in our lives, or that of the world just because it happened to be the day the lunar module had been scheduled to land on the moon? Did the end of the Vietnam War change the world? (Perhaps it did; this one gets serious consideration, to be sure.) Was Paul Henderson’s goal more than just a feel-good moment for Canadians? Did Lady Diana’s death affect the world beyond being a huge “feel-bad” day?
I thought about more recent events: Y2K (Wow, was that one ever a flop!) I thought of 9-11. I know exactly where I witnessed the plane crashing into tower #2 (out here on the West coast, most of us were still sleeping when the first tower one was hit). The 2008 market crash had dramatic effects, but they weren’t triggered by one particular day or event—at least not one that the vast majority of people could identify.
Of all the events mentioned, the most dramatic one—and, I would contend, one that did change the world in a substantial way–was 9-11 because it changed Western culture, if not the entire world’s culture, to one of fear and mistrust that we still live with nineteen years later, and maybe will forever.
There have been other days in history that were clearly momentous, but long before my time. I think of the events that triggered each of the two world wars. I think of the Wright Brothers’ first successful flight; I think of Edward Jenner, who created the very first vaccine in history (for smallpox–way back in 1796.) Those events all had world-changing effects.
Monday certainly was a momentous day for those who got vaccinations that day. It was a momentous day for the families of the 49 people who died of covid-19 in B.C. over the weekend, and of those who were added on Monday.
Bonnie Henry is describing Tuesday as “momentous” because it’s the day the first person in her jurisdiction gets the covid-19 vaccine. And well, she should.
I’m glad we have such “feel good” days, especially during a time like this, when lock-downs challenge us to find whatever we can to feel good about in life.
But, with few exceptions, I think momentous days are defined much more personally for us. The most momentous days in my life were not necessarily those that someone in the media or any historian picked as momentous. They were days that had very personal meaning and/or long-term effects. Like the day I got married, the days my children were born, the day my father passed away, the day I broke my neck, the day I signed up my first rent 2 own client, etc.
It’s mostly those personal events that shape our lives.
And, so it should be. Just as we each, individually, chart our own course, regardless of the world circumstances around us, so we each have our own special moments in life—for better or worse–that define what momentous is for us regardless of how the larger society labels days and events.
At least, that’s how I see it . . .