I was seven years old, a first-grader at St. Anne School in Fall River, when President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed. We were in “ranks,” walking home, when the news started to spread.
By the reactions of the adults I saw, I thought the world was coming to an end. Literally. That was my first exposure to real news. And back then, that news came in dribs and drabs. Of course the three major networks had around the clock coverage, but nothing like today.
As I grew older the news became more and more a part of daily life, even for a youngster like me. The Vietnam War was ripe with all its horrors and controversy. I watched every evening as Walter Cronkite or Huntley and Brinkley gave the “scores” of the days battles: the killed, the wounded, the missing — for both sides. Footage from southeast Asia left a scary black and white image of a world I didn’t know.
Later, I saw the news break of the assassinations of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. Again, it dominated the three stations, but in dribs and drabs.
There was good news, too, once in a while. I fondly remember watching the old black and white with my dad as Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon with his iconic, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
I watched in horror at the race riots and the violence at the party presidential conventions.
In the early 1980s came the advent of CNN, where one could watch the suffering of the world 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The world was becoming much smaller each year. Society was also becoming the instant knowledge generation. We were becoming “spoiled” with knowing everything about everything — instantly.
We got to see the opening salvos of Desert Storm and the bombing of Baghdad. Every conflict, every war, every bit of violence was at our fingertips and eyeballs at the press of a remote.
Today we can add the worldwide web to the equation, making news faster and the world even smaller. But all that came with a price. The price was the hardening of the human heart.
We watched young students gunned down in their classrooms; brutalities of police against citizens and citizens against police; scandals and human atrocities. And we’ve grown colder with each.
The latest war to be broadcast as it started was the war in Ukraine. The first few weeks, people were glued to their laptops, smart phones, and large screen TVs. We were horrified to see innocent people and modern cities killed and bombed beyond recognition. That all started this past February 24.
That ugly part of history hasn’t eased a bit. But interest has.
I implore anyone who reads this column, please do not forget our brothers and sisters in Ukraine; what they are going through, what their world, which was so similar to ours, has become.
While we’re complaining about food and fuel costs, please let’s say a prayer for the people there. This instant world has seemingly forgotten all about them. We cannot do the same. Let’s keep the hellish images of an insane war fresh in our minds and souls. Forgetting about it doesn’t make it go away — for them.
There is still killing, rapes, destruction and evil in eastern Europe. Unlike our modern news availability, their suffering won’t go away in an instant.
Remember Ukraine. Remember the people, and pray for both.