Where Were You When… Empty Nest by Curt Swarm


There have been three major “Where were you whens…” in my life.  I was born in 1948, making me 72 years young.  The first, “Where were you when…,” happened while I was a sophomore in high school in Monroe, Iowa.  The date was, November 22, 1963.  President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  The high school principal, Mr. Gansky, came into our history class (what a history lesson!) and gave us the shocking news.  At least one girl started crying.  I could not believe, in that day and age (we’d just gotten dial telephones), a President of the United States could be shot.  Something like that hadn’t happened since Abraham Lincoln.  Mr. Gansky assured us that, yes, political assassinations were still in the realm of possibility.

A party had been planned that weekend at a classmate’s house.  Instead of dancing the twist, and attempting the Limbo or Watusi, as we would normally be doing at one of our parties, we sat around in the classmate’s darkened basement and, instead of necking (or making out), we talked in hushed whispers about the assassination.  Jack (“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”) Kennedy was well liked.  Jacqueline (Jackie) Kennedy was every young man’s heart throb, and every young girl’s idol.  We generally concluded that Vice President Lyndon Johnson, who was immediately sworn in as president while on an airplane, had planned the assassination (he wanted the presidency and Jackie).  Then followed the wild days of Lee Harvey Oswald being shot by Jack Ruby on live television, and conspiracy theories (we didn’t even call them “conspiracy theories” yet, we called them rumors) abounded, like popcorn popping.  Little John John saluting, as his father’s casket passed by in a horse drawn caisson, followed by a riderless horse, broke a nation’s heart.    

The second “Where were you?” was obviously September 11, 2001 when the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon and the country, came under attack by jet-airplane-flying-foreign terrorists.  I was getting ready for work and had CNN on.  I watched the whole scenario of “An airplane has just crashed into one of the Twin Towers.  What’s going on?” unfold.  I was late for work.  Once again the nation was thrown into a tizzy, and conspiracy theories (we were calling them “conspiracy theories” now) abounded.  A popular one was that President George W. Bush (or “W”) had planned the whole thing.  “September 11” would be shortened to “911,” which was and still is the number we dial for an emergency.  It was speculated the terrorists had planned that date for this reason, but never verified.  A coincidence?  I can still visualize a man jumping out of a window of one of the Twin Towers and plummeting to his death—like in a nightmare.  What would become of our nation?  President Bush, taking a bullhorn and addressing the nation from atop a pile of rubble, brought assurance to a trembling nation.

The third “Where were you?” I’m sorry to say, happened just this year on January 6—a day that will live in infamy, to quote FDR.  Our nation’s Capitol was attacked and overrun, not by foreign terrorists, but United States Citizens—like in a Third World Country!  The US Capitol had not been destroyed since the War of 1812, and that was by foreign adversaries.  Ginnie was at work, and I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish.  Instead, I was glued to the television for the whole day, and once again watched the nightmare unfold—Democracy under siege.  I believe there were eight hours of commercial-free coverage—the truest sign of a national emergency.  I kept texting photographs of the television screen to Ginnie, at first as a “Can you believe what’s happening?” then as an “OMG!”

I don’t want to go through another, “Where were you?”  Our country or the world may not survive a fourth.  Conspiracy theories the reality might become. 

Have a good story?  Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com

9 thoughts on “Where Were You When… Empty Nest by Curt Swarm

  1. Give me a break.the 3rd “where were you” was the 6 months of terrorsit attacks not by foriegners but by Americans in many many cities,capitals ect.burning down churches,police stations,court houses and curches.
    What happened on jan 6th this year was baby shit compared to what antifa and the blm groups did to our country last year.
    You are an anti American nazi pushing this faulse propaganda.we the people demand you stop.

    1. Tommy you as so wrong. Civil unrest and protests have been happening since our country was formed almost 250 years ago. This is the first time in our history a president refused to accept the results of an election he clearly lost and encourage a mob of terrorists to storm the capitol and overthrow the government. Attempted coup by a dictator wannabe and his brainwashed cult followers.

  2. Tommy you are comparing Apples to oranges. Insurrection trying to overthrow the government by force is not comparable to civil unrest in big cities. Trump and all his enablers domestic terrorists that encouraged this attempted coup to overthrow the government and throw out election should be locked up for treason.

    1. An attempted coup by protesters without an army?it wasnt an insurrection.it was pissed off people sick of the anti Americanism going on.
      This election was rigged before it even happened.half this country believes it and most the of the other half would if they werent so blind. it wasnt terrorist it was Americans that have had enough.that wanted to be heard and counted for.
      half of this country has been called racist and told what to do and say and told to shut up and pay for the other half.
      Everyone white and straight are now called terrorist if they dont play along with the anti American agenda that is playing out before us.we our losing free speech.if a person supports the other side we are condemned and lose our jobs.ect.labled racist and terrorist.gas and utilities prices have soared in just a month.weve lost tons of jobs putting tremendous debt on out country taking trillions from hard working Americans only to send trillions to shithole countries barely helping Americans struggling here.
      We are in the midst of civil war.its not about race either.this civil war is about fighting to preserve our great country before it is handed over to anyone of the countries our American people fought against to get our independence from.
      Right now only half this country is American and fighting for America.the other half is fighting too hard against the other side and against America and dont even know why they are.

  3. Where is the proof of rigged election ? Trumps big lie. Trump said –I love the poor and uneducated–He knows they are easily fooled.

  4. What has become painfully apparent over the past 40 years and has really come to a head in the past 20 is that the divide in the United States has become an unbridgable one. It’s far deeper and more profound than the one that existed in the 1850s-1870s. The various opposing factions have differences so deep, so profound that they can’t even agree on the definition of common words. Adding to these divisions is the historically unprecedented migration of foreign populations to the US since 1965 who have no concepts of Western Civilization and are unabashedly own group oriented and have no pretenses about being “Americans” or loyalty to America’s foundational principles. There is no common ground. There won’t be any “healing” or rapprochement. The divisions are simply too great. The polar opposite definitions of right, wrong, good, evil and the overall differences of life ways are just too profound.

    We are ruled by a 1% corporate, NGO, techno-oligarchy hive mind which controls everything from the mainstream media, banking, wall street, entertainment, much of the internet, the federal government leviathan and the bi-factional ruling party. These forces are only gaining in power and our new corporate/government overlords are assembling hellish Orwellian 1984 type society that the late author could never have dreamed possible. They appear to have little to no serious opposition and their actions are becoming more brazen by the day.

    From the Roman Empire all the way to the upheavals of the 20th and 21st centuries show that these situations resolve themselves in a couple of ways. The first, and for the US the most desirable, is a “Velvet Divorce” as happened with the former Czechoslovakia. The others are less desirable, the Roman Empire, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Weimar Germany, the Russian revolution, Pol Pot etc.

    It is my sincere hope that some sort of peaceful separation can be devised. The two major sides simply cannot and will not live under the same rules and laws. One cannot forcibly rule over the other and they must go their separate ways. The price of not being rid of each other will inevitably be a shattered nation awash hatred and blood and armed with thermonuclear weaponry. The cost in human lives and misery would be ghastly beyond comprehension.

    The situation is what it is. Arguing over the minutiae and causes that got us here are pointless at this juncture. We can either peaceably disentangle ourselves from each other or watch our world burn and our countrymen (of whatever side you’re on) slaughtered in a bloodbath without precedent in modern history. I hope for the sake of our children and humanity in general we choose a peaceable separation and go our separate ways. There won’t be a replay of an honorable dispute among brothers who at the end shake hands and go home like the first US Civil War. Think more of Bosnia x Rwanda x Lebanon with the possibility of The Day After x Threads thrown in for good measure.

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