Monday, February 18, 2013

The Gen X Chronicles: Part Nine - The Images that Colored Our Lives

The following pictures are some of the final images I photographed in the Reagan museum - images  from an era that deeply affected the collective psyche and lives of Gen Xers.   I only had three short hours to spend at this museum, and those three hours turned into ten blog entries.  I wish I could've chronicled more.  I encourage other Xers to go there - to even spend a whole day there so that you can experience it fully for yourself - to look back on the major events that happened in that tumultuous and fascinating era of history.

Above: a photo I took of Reagan's old notecards. He had a system where he would write down thoughts or quotes that inspired him and then draw from them for speeches.  These words, imprinting themselves in pixels in my camera, were the words that have imprinted themselves into the soundbites of our collective memory. 

Above: Air Force One.  This plane holds a lot of history from within. Photography is not allowed from the inside, but you are allowed to walk through. It is a mix of fascinating and eerie, because it is such a time capsule.  There were seven different American presidents transported on this plane. This plane took Nixon home from his resignation, it took Carter to meet hostages in Iran, and it took Reagan to various countries during the Cold War.

Above: one area of the museum has mementos of the Reagan Assassination. In high school film criticism, I remember learning about how a hand held camera adds extra tension due to the shaking that becomes apparent on film. You can tell by this photos that my hands were shaking as I stood over the jacket Reagan had been wearing on March 30, 1981.  It was intense to be so near all this - especially while a continuous loop of the footage of the assassination attempt was streaming to the side with gun shots that were very audibly ringing over and over again.   Sometimes you don't realize how much something has affected you until you revisit it many years later.  It was strange to be standing inches away from the dark blue jacket present on a day that altered the course of history.

Above:  The White House presidential oval office as it looked during the Reagan Administration.

The Reagan Library and Museum in California isn't so much about a specific president or political party, but more about an era - the 1980s.  It inadvertently became a chronicle of the formative years of Gen X, because it is is a visual story of the major world events that affected us in our youth. 

Among other things, this series covered the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989 since many Gen Xers say these were the two most important events that affected our generation during the 80s.  There were other geopolitical issues mentioned at the museum from that era that included South America, the Middle East, and other places.  Each one of these events affected the collective psyche, but they affected people as individuals in different ways depending on where they were living.   Many of us were (and still are) haunted by the Chernobyl Disaster which is mentioned in the museum.  This is something that still affects people in the present, which is why I didn't want to chronicle it as a piece of history.  Instead, I plan to do a whole Chernobyl series later this year.  Another issue documented at the museum that partly took place in the impressionable years of Gen X was The Troubles in Ireland and the UK and I hope to do some writing about that in the future.   There is so much history in those years that it can't really be limited to a series of ten posts, so beyond this series, I will keep telling the story.   

A lot happened in the formative years of Generation X and this is a big piece to understanding who we have become today. 

(c) 2012/2013  - All photos from the Gen X Chronicles taken by Chloe - original images from the Reagan Library and Museum in Simi Valley, CA.   All rights reserved. 

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