C.J. Marshall: Significa: Why 50th anniversaries are 'golden'
I recently read an article in The Daily Review titled "Are we stuck on 50th anniversaries?" in which the author groused about our fascination with that golden moment.
I've been just as guilty as everyone else about such infatuation. When the time came for the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination I wrote a column about my reflections on the matter. When my parents reached their golden anniversary, I was the one who made a big fuss about it - despite the fact that my dad wanted to strangle me when he found out I put an article about it in the local paper. And I have a column brewing in my head when we reach the 50-year mark when the four boys from Liverpool - John, Paul, George and Ringo - hit these shores and changed forever the sound of popular music.
The author of the article spoke about the Boomer generation and why we keep on looking with fascination at the past - and that's true. But I think no matter what generation from what time period, we will always look back at the past; often wistfully and with nostalgia - particularly 50 years ago.
But why is 50 years such a "golden" moment in our memories? Well it's a milestone, obviously, but I also believe most of us realize - abet subconsciously - its the last official marking of an event that will have happened within the "living memory" of a large number of the participants.
The past can be divided into two distinct periods - living memory and recorded history. In living memory, you were around when the event occurred and in some way experienced it first hand. The best example of this for me is when the Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Although I was only 12 at the time, I can remember the thrill when we watched on television Neil Armstrong take his first steps onto the lunar surface and say those immortal words.
By contrast, there's recorded history. This is reading, hearing, or even viewing (on film) an event that occurred before one was born. Although one might be proud about it - such as the moon landing - a person who wasn't around when the event occurred will not experience the same emotions of the moment as those who were.
As I mentioned earlier, with a 50th anniversary, you still have a lot of people who were around when the event occurred, and as a result they experience the pleasure of "re-sharing the moment" so to speak, as well as swapping stories and memories. In addition, those who were around also enjoy sharing their first-hand memories with those who were born too late to have seen the event.
Or sure, there's still people around when 75th anniversaries occur. But their numbers have dwindled considerably by that time, and anyone fortunate to have been around when a 100th anniversary occurs will no doubt have been too young to remember much of anything about the event.
So that's why a 50th anniversary is such a "golden" moment. It's a marking of a special time by the people who were fortunate enough to have been around when it occurred, and its also a bit of a "last hurrah" because folks know that the event will soon pass forever from living memory into recorded history - a fate which time dictates must always come to pass.
C.J. Marshall is a writer and columnist for The Daily Review. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If there's anything worse than lawmakers and their staffs violating the public trust through criminal corruption, it's forcing the public to pay for their legal defense. If there's anything worse than that, it's the Legislature's refusal to disclose the identities of the public servants receiving the free legal assistance.
Fortunately, the Commonwealth Court this week completed shredding the veil of secrecy the state Senate had erected around its members and staffers receiving publicly funded legal help.
The case arose from a case against former state Sen. Robert J. Mellow of Lackawanna County. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and to defraud the federal government by filing a false tax return, and is close to completing a prison sentence he began about a year ago.
Marc Levy, a reporter for the Associated Press, sought from the Senate financial records relative to any publicly funded legal services for Mr. Mellow and staffers for the Senate Democratic caucus. The Senate refused, under the farcical claim that revealing whether the public employees received publicly funded legal representation would violate attorney-client privilege.
Last year the Commonwealth Court found and the Supreme Court upheld that the Senate's financial records are public records that do not jeopardize attorney-client privilege.
This week, a three-judge Commonwealth Court panel found that the Senate can't hide the records behind grand jury secrecy rules, the Right-To-Know Law's exception for criminal investigations or the attorney work-product doctrine.
The public is not entitled to know the specific legal strategy or advice offered by lawyers to senators or their staffers, the judges found, but taxpayers are entitled to the identities of legislative personnel they are paying lawyers to represent and, generally, the nature of the services.
"Where, as here, the taxpayers are footing the bill for the legal services, they are entitled to know the general nature of the services provided for the fees charged," Judge Robert K. Simpson wrote.
That the Senate considers that a novel concept demonstrates how far the Legislature has to go before it can call itself transparent.