Tuesday, March 31, 2009


It seems like a hundred years ago that Americans sat paralyzed in front of our primitive black and white television sets, watching the post-JFK assasination activities unfold. The mid-20th century civil rights movement seems almost like something we saw in a movie, rather than the blood and guts struggle that changed the course of American culture. The day astronaut John Glenn circled the earth for the first time may not seem so monumental now, but it certainly was then. I was seven years old. All the kids in George Washington Elementary School gathered in the gymnasium to watch the liftoff on one small black and white TV on the stage. It was a different time.

Every week for decades, Americans rushed to the newsstand to buy the new issue of LIFE Magazine,, the primary chronicler of the American dream, of war and peace, of racial strife, of Hollywood, of star athletes, of scientific miracles, of all that ever mattered. Starting today, LIFE is reborn at LIFE.com, where the world's largest collection of professional photography is finally showcased. There you will find Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in American baseball and later played himself in a biopic. You'll see Marilyn Monroe, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Howard Hughes, Bette Davis, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Clark Gable -- LIFE was our national yearbook. Everybody we cared about showed up at one time or another.

Through its exquisite photography, LIFE Magazine reminded us, every week, that all that happened that week was about us -- all of us. Hunger was hunger, whether in Ethiopia or in Appalachia. Cultural warfare was as brutal and life-altering in Eastern Europe as it was in Selma, Alabama. LIFE was, and is, as much a part of our lives as what we see in our aging parents' 8mm home movies. Please take three minutes and one second to catch this brief preview of some of what you will find at LIFE.com. (Go full screen and pump up the volume)

No comments: