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Have you ever had a time when you thought to yourself, “This is nuts. Yesterday, I never would have thought this could happen”?
If you look back on your life, do you have days that stand out so much that you can only say, What a difference a day makes?
I have a few of those in my life, but there are too many of these days to mention throughout history. However, today, I will discuss a few of them, and I want you to think about how big things that happen to other people can affect everyone around them, even those who don’t know them personally.
Think about the difference a day makes as you read through these stories.
October 28, 1929
In the 1920s, the US was enjoying a time of privilege and wealth. All of a sudden, that came to a crashing halt when the stock market crashed on Monday, October 28, 1929. The crash was not a one-day event. It began on October 28 but continued to plummet until the middle of November 1929. The crash did not cause the Great Depression, but it was one of the biggest contributing factors. After the US market crashed, a global depression followed.
Think about the people who were alive and affected by this. One day, they had the money to survive, but the next day, the banks wouldn’t allow them to get their money. Many people lost jobs, homes, families, and so much more. There were probably warning signs, but no one could have seen the extent of what was coming. Just look at the difference a day makes.
September 11, 2001
Alan Jackson sang, “Where were you when the world stopped turning?” If you were alive, and old enough to have memories of that day, the morning of September 11, 2001, seemed to cause the world to stop spinning. There were planes crashing in so many different places, and it felt like it would never end. Planes hit, and eventually leveled, the Twin Towers in New York. A plane hit the Pentagon. Another plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, thanks to some courageous passengers who took action.
Over 3000 people lost their lives that day. They didn’t return home to friends and family. Their pets were left unattended until someone else took care of them. The lives that ended that day aren’t the only ones affected.
Before September 11, 2001, did you wonder if a plane seemed to be flying too low to the ground? Were you searched extensively in an airport before you boarded a flight? That’s only part of our “new normal.” How about the families of the people who died? They had to learn a new normal without someone they loved. Parents lost children and children lost parents.
Now that it has been over 20 years since it happened, it’s hard to imagine life being like it was before September 11th, but that’s just the difference a day makes.
December 7, 1941
In an attempt to keep the US Pacific fleet out of WWII, the Japanese army bombed the military base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On that Sunday morning, the men and women on the base were doing their jobs just like every other day of the week. Some may have been getting ready to attend church services. Others may have still been sleeping.
The attack began at 7:55 am and lasted for an hour and 15 minutes. The US Naval Base had been caught by surprise. According to census.gov, the US had intercepted a Japanese transmission asking about ship movements and berthing positions at Pearl Harbor. The person who intercepted the message (on Saturday, December 6, 1941), gave it to her superior. He said that he would return it to her on Monday, December 8.
What a difference a day makes! If her superior had been able to handle the intercepted message on Saturday, the men and women at Pearl Harbor could have possibly been able to defend themselves on Sunday. Maybe it wouldn’t have been a surprise attack.
This attack led to the US getting involved in WWII. It also led to the next two days on the list. Before we leave Pearl Harbor, just think about it. If the message had been interpreted on Saturday, the attack may not have been as successful on Sunday. Unfortunately, the superior officer decided to hold on to the message until Monday.
The soldiers, families, and civilians on the Naval base at Pearl Harbor that day had no idea on Saturday that Sunday would begin (and end) the way that it did.
August 6 and 9, 1945
You probably know about the events of these two days, but you might not remember the exact dates. August 6 and 9, 1945, are the two days that the US dropped atomic bombs on Japan. On August 6th, Hiroshima was destroyed. Nagasaki followed on August 9th.
As with Pearl Harbor, the people in these cities didn’t know what was about to happen. They probably knew that Japan was involved in the war. However, who knows if they considered the fact that their towns would be hit by bombs or not?
With the dropping of these two bombs, over 100,000 people were killed. Japan surrendered and left the war. There was nothing more they could do. The day before each of these attacks, the people, and possibly the military, of Japan were living their lives and doing their jobs. Then all of a sudden everything changed. Do you see the difference a day can make?
November 11, 1963
As you may be able to guess, I have only discussed one thing for which I was actually alive. I promise, there are more coming. Some of them are very important and close to my heart.
On November 11, 1963, while driving in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed. I’m sure he didn’t consider that as a possibility when he got into the car that morning. However, for him, his wife, everyone watching, and the entire nation, everything changed.
For one man, things changed quickly and drastically. When JFK was shot, Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the President of the United States. The day before he had completed his Vice-Presidential duties. What a difference a day makes!
October 9, 1973
Spiro Agnew, the Vice President of the United States, resigned from his office. He was being charged with corruption and tax evasion. That was a change from the previous day for him, but there is someone else whose life changed, even more, that day.
When Agnew resigned, Gerald Ford was sworn in as the Vice President.
August 9, 1974
Amid all the issues, complications, and allegations of the Watergate trial, President Richard Nixon resigned from his office.
Upon his resignation, Gerald Ford was sworn in as President. This allowed Ford to make history in a couple of ways. First, he was sworn in as President, that’s always historical. Second, he’s the only person to hold the offices of Vice President and President without ever having been elected to either. (Don’t you just love random trivia?!)
For Gerald Ford, there were two days, in less than a year, that completely changed his life. I’m sure that before either of his predecessors resigned he was informed. That means that he had at least a few hours to plan before the major life changes, but those are still huge changes. It’s amazing the difference a day makes.
August 18, 2003
In November 2002, my husband and I found out we were having a baby. We were absolutely ecstatic! A few months later, we found out it was a girl. When we left the doctor’s office, we went down the street to the Toys ‘R Us store. We got her a little brown bear, which she later named “Bear Bear,” and we took it everywhere with us. It rode in the car seat to the hospital the night we had her.
On Sunday, August 17th, I had horrible back pain.
I couldn’t get my breath, applied heat and cold, and tried everything I could to make it stop. We even missed church that day because of the amount of pain I was in.
Around 5 pm, we called the doctor because the pain was so bad that I didn’t know what to do. The doctor, who didn’t realize we lived close to 2 hours from the hospital, suggested that we get things ready and start thinking about heading to the hospital, just in case. When we told him where we lived, he said we needed to move a little more quickly than the “start thinking about” stages.
I called the church to tell my parents that we were headed to the hospital. By the time we got everything in the car and checked in at the hospital, it was 9 pm. At 2:15 am, our daughter was born. My parents, the pastor and his wife (my parents’ best friends), my sister, and the pastor’s son all arrived before she was born. My mom, my sister-in-law, and my husband were in the room with me.
As moms, you know how this day made a difference. However, I can tell you that I was scheduled to go to the doctor that Monday afternoon for a stress test. I was 7 days overdue when the back pain started, and 8 days overdue when she was born.
What a difference a day makes! I’m not sure that I have slept well, because of mom’s worry and such, since that night. I’m sure, as a mom, you can relate to that feeling too.
April 1, 2020
I was blessed with the best grandparents in the world. No one will ever change my opinion on that. My grandpa (mom’s dad) passed when I was a freshman in college. My grandmother (dad’s mom) died in 2010. Grandma (mom’s mom) passed in 2011. All of them were the most amazing humans I have ever met.
On March 31, 2020, Papaw (dad’s dad) had a phone visit with his doctor. As you know, we were amid the Covid stuff by this point. Doctors were already trying to keep patients out of the office, when possible. Papaw’s doctors were great! They didn’t want to take any chances with him, so they did a phone visit and said they thought he might have a kidney infection. The doctor was going to call in some antibiotics and we’d get them the next day.
Although Papaw was closing in on 80 years old, he still worked part-time at a farm every day. He went in early in the morning and finished in the early afternoon. By 1 pm every day, he called my mom to just check-in. On April 1, 2020, Papaw didn’t go to work because he had not been feeling well, thus the call to the doctor.
Papaw had not called mom. I was at home with my daughter, and she was doing her online classes for homeschool. Mom called me to ask if I would drive down to check on Papaw. I didn’t have a problem with it, and I headed that way. I was only about 20 minutes from him, but when I was worried, the time may have shortened a little.
When I got to his house, his El Camino was in the carport. The door was closed, but the lights were on. Then it happened, the neighbor’s dog came running up to my car. I am terrified of dogs, so I called Mom and she sent my brother to meet me.
Donnie had to push the glass out of the storm door so that we could open the door. I used my key, which mom had just given me the night before, to unlock the door.
When we went in, we found that Papaw had passed away while sleeping in his chair. As I think about it now, it’s still sad for me. However, he was so peaceful. When we held his outdoor funeral with about 25 people a few days later, a friend of ours sang “Sheltered in the Arms of God.” There is a line in that song that says, “I’ll fall asleep and wake in God’s new Heaven.”
As far as we could tell, that’s what Papaw did. He fell asleep and woke up in Heaven.
The day before this, our family was planning gatherings and fun things. That afternoon, we began planning Papaw’s funeral.
One day can make so much difference. It’s amazing what 24 hours can do. Have you ever considered it like this? What a difference a day makes!
Think back through your life. Grab a pencil and paper. Jot down the days that are important to you. Obviously, these aren’t the only ones in my life or in history that made an impact and a difference in my life.
What is the one day that you think of that made a significant difference in your life? Was it your wedding day? Is it the day you gave birth to your child? Could it be the day you left the career you thought you’d have forever? (I wrote about the reasons I left teaching, and I never thought I’d do that. I thought I’d be a teacher until I retired.) Check out that post next.
Take some time to think about it. Ask your friends and family what days they can think of that changed their lives. Then make a list of all the days you can remember. Just think that something you never imagined may happen tomorrow. Good or bad, what a difference a day makes!