My first political memory was standing beside my grandfather’s chair as the TV news showed pictures from Warsaw Pact troops entering Prague on August 21, 1968. The pictures have been shown so many times later, that I can’t know for sure exactly what I saw that evening.But what I do remember is the anger, and fear, that was thick in the air around that chair of my grandfather. I can’t imagine he said or explained anything for me, or maybe he did, but my memory is purely one of absorbing the gravity of the news through his unspoken feelings – and the severe tone of the news speaker.
Maybe I’d noted how my grandmother was sadened by the murder of Martin Luther King in April the same year, though I do not know. What I do remember, however, are a few references of hers to the murders of President Kennedy and of Reverend King as the very two instances that made her doubt the US democracy. I have the feeling she lost her belief in America as the old world’s beacon of liberal democracy. Through her I did too, although I didn’t know it yet.
The next year the moon landing ought to have happened. But I’m not sure I remember it. I’m told that I saw also Neil Armstrong on TV beeing the first human to ever set foot on the Moon, and maybe I did, but obviously it didn’t impress on me.