Alex J.

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Alex J.


The family has its roots in Oklahoma and experienced most of the events of the 1960s, including military service during the Vietnam War.


Alex J.


July 2012


Charles Evans

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Alex *
Since the end of World War II my family, ranging from my grandparents to myself, has
seen a lot of important world events. This essay will tell about the events from my grandfather’s
time, my father’s time period, as well as my own thoughts on recent history.
My grandfather, Willie Lee *, was born in April of 1935, and at the end of World War II
was roughly 9-10 years old. He was living in Oklahoma on the family farm with the rest of his
family, about 7-8 other siblings as well as his mother. Around the start of the Korean War he was
right about the age of 15 and still too young to fight. He does remember some of the older boys
from school signing up and leaving town for a while, and also heard reports on his radio at home
in the evenings. He met my grandmother in the summer of 1957, who was in Oklahoma visiting
extended family since her immediate family was living in California after moving during the dust
bowl. They were married in 1958 and my father, Willie *, was born in October of 1959. They
were both living in California when the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred as well as when JFK was
With the start of Vietnam, my grandfather went on to serve in the United States Air
Force. Also in the Air Force at that time was my mother’s father, who after being stationed in
Turkey from 1964-1966, was then asked to fight in Vietnam as well. They both returned home in
early 1974. In 1976 they celebrated the bicentennial by partying in Los Angeles. In 1977 my
grandfather and grandmother got divorced and my father has no real idea where my grandfather
was until 1985, from their my grandfather was living in Las Vegas during every major event
except for 9/11, when he was visiting us in Oregon.
My father, being born in 1959, does not remember anything about the beginning of the
Vietnam War just that his father was in it. He vividly remembers the 1969 moon landing, as he

sat in his living room watching the black and white television broadcast at the tender age of ten.
He was entranced by the thought of space and visiting other planets. He wanted to be an
astronaut, until an unfortunate accident in 1972 where he fell out of a 3rd story window and
permanently damaged his vision, thus ruining his chances of getting into the Air Force to be a
pilot. He was too young for the “free love” movement, but graduated high school in 1977 and
participated in the disco scene. He was still living in Los Angeles, working at a hotel when the
1980’s hit, and saw the election of his all time favorite president, Ronald Regan. In fact he made
so many contributions to Ronald Regan’s campaign that he has an autographed letter from Regan
giving thanks for all of his help. In 1982 he got a job as a military ship electrician at Todd’s
shipyard at the Southwest Marine complex in Long Beach California, refitting and repairing
electrical systems on ships that were patrolling the Pacific. He met my mother in 1986, and they
were married in 1988. Two important things happened in 1989, I was born and the Berlin wall
was torn down. The tearing down of the Berlin wall and the end of the Cold War was significant
for my father because it effectively put him out of work. Bush I was elected and Desert Storm
happened, Clinton was elected, Monica Lewinski happened, we still lived in California.
Now on to what I remember from recent history. I vaguely remember Clinton bombing
Iraq in 1998, and shortly afterward we moved to Oregon to get away from Los Angeles and try
to find work for my parents. The Y2K scare came and went and nothing happened. 9/11 then
occurred and I remember this very vividly, which is odd because when comparing notes with
other peers that lived in this area, our experiences were completely different. I went to middle
school as normal, and during first period we watched the replays of that morning’s events on the
news and then continued with our day. Other kids were allowed to go home if requested by
parents, but overall no one was really affected over there as much as the people here were. The

D.C. sniper is another that I remember happening while living in Oregon and was not even fazed
about, simply because it didn’t affect me, but asking people about it here brings up so much
intense feelings of fear and anger that I don’t even bother anymore.
Everyday, events pass us by and whether those events are significant are not they still
become a part of history. One day my kids will hopefully ask me where I was during an
important historical event, and hopefully I’ll have good enough sense to remember and pass
down our own family history.




Alex J., “Alex J.,” Historical Memory:, accessed October 3, 2023,

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