There are few rare moments in life when someone actually gets to be a part of history, or witness it as it unfolds. The following AskReddit users got to do just that. Here are some of their amazing stories.
Source list available at the end.
I signed the condolence book and spent time in Hyde Park, and later I walked down to Carriage Drive to watch the funeral procession. I still have photos somewhere.
I was in elementary school when the Beltway Sniper was active around the Washington D.C. area. I remember that we weren’t allowed to play outside for weeks because people were so afraid that their children would be shot by a serial killer. I’m pretty sure my second grade teacher’s heart broke when we begged to play outside, and she couldn’t let us or tell us why we had to be stuck inside.
I was a student and a volunteer EMT at Boston College when the marathon was bombed. I’ll never forget watching my hands shake as I was trying to lace up my work boots so that I could report for duty. I thought that I was going straight up to Copley Square to treat the wounded.
But, as it turns out, we were needed on campus (400 stranded marathon runners all had to stop at BC). We ended up sheltering them all in a church on campus and trying to rehydrate them, treat their marathon injuries and cramps, get them something to eat, keep them calm, and help them find their families. All of the EMTs in that church were college students, but we pulled ourselves together and took care of everyone.
An hour after, I got back to my dorm, and I cried like I’ve never cried before.
I was there during Hurricane Katrina and the Alton Sterling shooting.
I was in Madrid when Spain won the World Cup for the first time in 2010. I have never seen everybody so happy.
I saw Prince sing Purple Rain while it rained purple rain at the Super Bowl from the field. I was one of the many volunteers that day for the show, and I was right in front of him by the stage when he sang it. I will never forget that.
I was a water protector at Standing Rock. It was one of the biggest things that I’ve ever done in my entire life. I’ve never even been out of my own state before, so quitting my job and hopping on a bus out there was terrifying. But it was so completely worth it, I loved being at the Oceti Sakowin camp.
My dad took my little brother and I to see his favorite racer, Dale Earnhardt, at the Daytona 500 in 2001.
It was the worst day of my dad’s life.
I was at John Glenn’s space shuttle launch. It was the loudest thing that I have ever felt (I could feel it in my knees).
I think I was 16 when I was at the Huntington Beach riot. It was so long ago. I had just started driving by myself and I thought, “Hey, let’s go South this time for a solo beach day.” It was very scary to see a wall of Swat people walking towards you.
I lived in Japan when the 9.0 earthquake happened.
I saw the first slicks of oil wash ashore from the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
The fall of the Berlin Wall was on Nov 9, 1989. I worked at Woolworth’s back then, and it was packed the next day. Filled up by East Berliners who wanted to see and buy Western goodies. The nicest people. We had to hire a guard to watch the kids in the buggies that they left outside the door. There must have been 30 at any given time. That was apparently how it was done in East Berlin.
I saw a guy hit a hole in one at the PGA Championship a few years ago.
I saw the O.J. slow speed chase go by. I also performed with Lionel Richie in the closing ceremony of the 1984 Olympic Games and drove through the burning streets during the L.A.riots.
I saw the 9/11 towers fall. I was in first grade. I didn’t know what was happening. All I saw was a dust cloud form.
It wasn’t one of the biggest battles during the Iraq war, but I was in Tal Afar during the battle of Tal Afar. I was located about 30 miles south of Mosul when we were sent over to Tal Afar to help out. We got there and would do our missions at night in the city. One day, I called my girlfriend and I mentioned that they had sent me to Tal Afar, and she told me that that’s all the news was talking about because there was a big battle going on there. I had no idea that a big battle was going on because it seemed pretty peaceful at night, and I guess it was too dark to see all the damage.
I saw Columbia launch on its final mission. I was at EPCOT, but you could tell it was a shuttle launch.
I also saw Doug Flutie play with the Patriots in the Boston area. That was historic for a few weeks.
As a kid, I saw Carter and Sadat on the white house lawn from a distance.
I was outside Wrigley Field with the crowds when the Cubs won last year. It was so crowded that no one’s data on their cell phones was working. It was hard to even get an update on the score. I was texting my dad all the way back in rural Alaska for score updates. I went home covered in champagne.
Joe Carter’s home run. It was the second-biggest home run in the history of the game (after Bill Mazeroski’s).
The inauguration itself was rather uneventful, but prior to it, I was walking around the streets of DC with this girl who I had met at the youth leadership conference that I was attending, and we got caught in a riot of sorts. There were protesters, and although it didn’t seem to have erupted into any violence, they were pushing their way towards the main area where the media was set up, and I reckon they didn’t want the bad publicity to surround the event. We (kind of) got tear-gassed, but we made sure to get the hell out of there. I’ve never felt so protective of someone before. It was pretty intense. I’ll always remember that day and that girl even though I’ve never been able to find her.
I also met Obama that day. He was still just a Junior Senator from Illinois at the time, but he was very polite and talked with the group that I was with for a while (One of the guys in my group was from Illinois). We snapped a picture and that was that. I never knew that the man I had just met would one day be our president.
I was at Woodstock, granted I was 3 at the time, but I was there. It was one of my first memories actually. My parents had just moved to the U.S. and heard about this music festival that was happening upstate. So, they drove up with me and my six-week-old brother, thinking that it would be easy to get a hotel room. They were wrong.
I was in the 5th grade, and I lived in NJ. We weren’t allowed outside for recess for a week because of debris and air pollution. My dad watched the towers fall from his job. He went and volunteered for 3 days to help clean up. He was there immediately after it happened (He works in law enforcement so his whole department went). There are pictures of him in piles of debris, but it’s the one thing that he has never spoken about once it was over. I think whatever he saw during the clean up traumatized him, as well as, being able to see people jumping from the towers as he watched the burn.
There were 6 snow days (108 inches).
Kobe’s Achilles tear and subsequent free throws to tie the game and help the Lakers win the game that they needed to get to the Playoffs.
In 2015, I was riding a bus in Nepal on my way to Kathmandu when a 7.8 earthquake struck. I arrived in the capital to complete devastation and chaos. I helped people clear away rubble/debris for hours to try and get to any bodies that may have been trapped underneath. Later that day, I was passed out on a friend’s couch when another aftershock hit, and I woke up to people screaming and running out the door. I thought I was going to die in that moment. Such crazy times.
The movie theatre massacre during the new Batman movie in Aurora, CO. My apartment was just down the street. I was driving home and happened to drive by the movie theatre as people were running out. I didn’t see the killer exit through the back, but I heard all of the police car sirens by the time that I had parked my car and went inside my home. My mother-in-law worked at the hospital that night. I remember her calling us early in the morning asking if we had seen the news.
The I-35W bridge collapse. I was riding along with my dad to a job site. We had just come off of the bridge when it collapsed. It was, and still is, the scariest thing that I have ever lived through.
Posts are edited for clarity.