For many of us, hearing that date, the year fills in itself.
For younger folks, it doesn't.
I work in a call center and take and see customers' birth dates in the course of my routine. Being a lover of history, when their birth date is on a significant day, or they share a birthday with someone famous, I might mention it to them and they are pleased and it adds to the "customer experience" and it's usually something only they and their family share.
I was gathering information on one occasion, and a gentleman born in the early fifties told me that his wife's birthday was November twenty-second, nineteen sixty-three.
I reacted automatically and quietly "wow" in passing; there was a brief silent pause and he said, "I know."
Another few seconds of silence and I continued with my next question, both of us seeming to mentally go somewhere else for a brief instant, before we resumed the routine task at hand.
I can't tell you exactly where I was on that specific day, as I was only three years old, but I do remember, what must have been days later, being frustrated when my afternoon cartoons on the black and white television were replaced by a somber parade with horses, a flag draped caisson and what seemed to be endless, monotonous voice-over. That is one of my first independent memories unaided by parental reinforcement.
Strangely though, I remember feeling something beyond mere inconvenience at the program change- I knew in my child's way of understanding that something very sad and tragic had happened and the memory remains.
November twenty-second always sticks out to me, like December seventh did for my grandmother and father and September eleventh does for my sons; each one a watershed for a particular generation. Where something changed, all at once, for the entire country, at the same time.
I have gotten in the habit of flying the flag on these memorable dates and certain holidays, in general. Not so much out of old-style patriotism with what I see as slightly jingoistic overtones, but as a reminder to all who pass to honor the men and women overseas in what has become truly endless wars.
As I noticed the date, and having spent the day anticipating the bounty of Thanksgiving tomorrow, the feelings collided and I was struck by a strange feeling of profound realization; not just for the blessings of family and health that normally accompany the Thanksgiving meal, but at the fact that we are truly living in extraordinary times marked by a background of amazing sacrifice that has tragically become almost routine in its exercise.
This Thanksgiving, coincidentally on this historic date, I would like to give special thanks for the freedoms we enjoy and honor those who made, and continue to make, them possible.
To allow these freedoms to be undermined and eroded under the guise of our "protection" is an insult to their collective sacrifice.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, everywhere.