One Dark Gulf Night ... No One Will Be the Same

Article excerpt

Byline: Burt Constable

Editor's note: While Burt recovers from hip replacement surgery, we are running his favorite columns from the past. This column ran Jan. 17, 1991.

It will become one of those moments frozen in time like the shooting of John F. Kennedy or the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Where were you when the war with Iraq started?

I was on the telephone in the newsroom listening to a good friend tell me about how the company he works for might fold because of the recession and how that wouldn't be all bad because he hated his job anyway. Then I saw all our reporters scamper to a tiny TV set on the copy desk.

Gotta go, the war is on.

It's supper time and a nation is watching war on TV. It reminds me of when I was a kid and watched the daily body counts from Vietnam come rolling across the TV screen just in time for dessert. It reminds me of Vietnam way too much.

At 6:33 p.m., my phone rings. I hope it is my wife because even though this war is confined to the TV set as far as my life goes, I would really like to talk to her.

It's not my wife.

"Hello? Hello? You know the war's started," begins a woman with a young, giggly voice, "and I'm calling from The Pledge of Resistance."

She gives me the schedule for Saturday's anti-war protest: 2 to 4 p.m., Room 206 in some building. I don't write it down.

Three minutes later another peace leader calls to tell us about a candlelight vigil starting now. "If you could cover that, that would be great," he says.

It will not be great. History will note that nothing about this evening will qualify as great.

"Boy, this is hard to believe," an editor says privately, shaking his head in disbelief. A half hour earlier, he was leading a newsroom meeting to dole out war assignments to reporters.

He sends me to a mall. The manager of the Cineplex Odeon movie theaters won't let me interview people who are spending the first two hours of this war watching "Look Who's Talking Too. …