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John Lennon Remembered

John Lennon Yoko Ono
(George Stroud/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Monday, December 8, 1980. I was 17 years old, a senior in high school and had class the next morning. I was doing that night what I do many Monday nights in the Fall 32 years later: watching Monday Night Football.

The Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots were tied at 13 with seconds left in the game and John Smith was coming on to attempt a game winning field goal for the Pats. I had stood up to walk over to the TV to turn it off when the kick was good and go to bed (remember the days before remote controls and you had to get up to change the channel and turn it on and off? Luckily there were only about four channels to choose from so you still didn’t get up much…but I’ve gotten off point)

Anyway, I had to look up the rest of what happened that night because I didn’t remember that the Dolphins blocked the kick, and then scored in overtime to win. I didn’t remember those facts because Howard Cosell told me and millions of other people that John Lennon had been shot twice in the back and was dead.

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In my younger years, I wasn’t a big Beatles fan, but by 15, 16, 17 I started listening to more of the later years Beatles and was getting into the new John Lennon solo album ‘Double Fantasy’ that had come out a couple weeks earlier. I was hearing ‘(Just Like) Starting Over’ on the radio and had gone to the Wax Museum in downtown Minneapolis to buy the album (yes album. As in vinyl, with grooves, but I’m getting off point again)

I didn’t know what to do with the news. Remember, this is long before the internet, the 24 hour news cycle, Facebook, texting, e-mail, CNN, on and on and on. I watched the rest of the game, the local news and waited for Nightline to try to get still sketchy details on what had happened. The newspaper the next morning didn’t have anything because it had happened after it had gone to press. It was the 6:00 news Tuesday when I finally started hearing the name Mark David Chapman. And still wondered why someone would kill John Lennon. Years later in an ABC 20/20 segment, Chapman explained why he did it:

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Maybe I’m of an age when I can fully appreciate what these artists might have accomplished had they lived. I don’t know if he would have still been making music. I think he would have won a Nobel Peace Prize though. I believe that his calling would have been to effect his dream of peace on earth. For such a peaceful spirit to be ended in such a violent manner has haunted me for 32 years and counting.

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