So this is 2023. And suddenly I am reminded of the year 1973. A different world, 50 years ago, and not necessarily a happy one.
It was the year the Vietnam War officially ended for the United States. It was the year marking the beginning of the OPEC crisis.
The Apollo program was canceled but the United States launched Skylab, America’s short-lived space station.
Iconic buildings, including the Sears Tower in Chicago and the Sydney Opera House, were completed.
A tumultuous year in politics, 1973 saw the US Supreme Court decide in Roe vs. Wade, a decision that was overturned 49 years later by a conservative court majority. The year also marks the beginning of Watergate. Meanwhile, vice president Spiro Agnew resigns and Gerald Ford takes his place, paving his way to become America’s first, and to date only, unelected president.
NASA launches Pioneer 11; and before the year is out, Pioneer 10 (launched earlier, in 1972) reaches Jupiter.
But what makes this year especially memorable for me was that in the summer, my Mom and I traveled to Ferihegy Airport in Budapest and boarded a Swissair DC-8 taking us to Zurich, where we switched planes, boarding another Swissair flight, a DC-10, taking us to Montreal. We were visiting my aunt, here in Ottawa.
That visit was beyond incredible. Canada! Of course as a child, I was most impressed by superficial things, such as the number of channels even my aunt’s old black-and-white television set was able to pick up through a rooftop antenna. (Saturday morning cartoons!) Still, superficial or not, what I saw I suppose thoroughly inoculated me against communist propaganda. And, needless to say, this experience played a major role in my decision to leave Hungary 13 years later, eventually settling right here in Ottawa, a beautiful city that — thanks in no small part to that childhood visit — feels like my true hometown.
And that visit was (almost) 50 years ago.