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Short Stories: The Moment You'll Never Forget

Article
Date
Apr 11, 2013
Location
Washington D.C.

We asked a group of influencers on Facebook to give us the one memory they'd never forget. They shared them with Facebook below. __

Ari Shapiro, NPR White House Correspondent:

I will never forget recording a story in the Air Force One bathroom. The plane was refueling in Germany after President Obama's surprise trip to Afghanistan. I was told we had 45 minutes, and the bathroom was the only quiet place I could find. As I sat on the toilet with the microphone, I felt a surprising yet unmistakable vibration beneath me. The plane was rolling. Because Air Force One doesn't give reporters wifi in the air, I had to send the file before takeoff. I tried not to let the panic into my voice as I frantically finished recording. Then I saw that my computer had kicked me offline. After reconnecting in a frenzy, I watched my file slowly upload. Air Force One's nose lifted into the air. "Your file is 32% sent."...56%...78%...We hit the clouds. Finally, the message appeared: FILE SENT. Then I ordered a drink.

Listen to the story that Ari recorded here.

AJ Jacobs, Editor at Large at Esquire

I will never forget the strange and wonderful fact that lightning goes up. I learned this while reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, a feat I undertook several years ago for a book I wrote. I’ve forgotten thousands of facts, maybe even millions, from the encyclopedia. I’ve forgotten a bucketful of South American capitals and a truckload of arctic explorers. But I’ll never forget that lightning goes up. To be technical, it does first go down. But the bright part, the part that flashes is the ‘return stroke,’ which goes from the ground back to the cloud. I love that factoid because it reminds me that the world is full of surprises and our most basic assumptions are often wrong. The universe is as bizarre as a Dr. Seuss book. I’ll never forget my son’s look of adorable bewilderment when I told him the truth about lightning. He wanted to know if rain also goes up. I think not. But I could be wrong.

Arianna Huffington

I will never forget the moment, four years ago, that I learned the value of sleep -- the hard way. I’d just returned home after a week of taking my daughter on a tour of colleges, and the ground rule was no BlackBerry during the day, so I stayed up very late to catch up on work. Next thing I knew, I was laying on the floor, bloodied. I had passed out from exhaustion and banged my head on the way down. The result was a broken cheekbone and five stitches under my eyebrow. And it was also a wake-up call, leading me to renew my estranged relationship with sleep.

Ambassador Susan E. Rice

I will never forget visiting Freedom Square in Benghazi on Nov. 22, 2011. Nine months had passed since Benghazi became the epicenter of the democratic uprising against the Qadhafi regime, eight since a historic UN vote and the start of an international mission to save thousands of lives. The Libyan people were just beginning a tough political transition. And yet Benghazi still felt like the beating heart of a revolution. We arrived around 11:00 a.m. on a warm morning and were met by the city’s Freedom Square Committee. I’ve never seen anything quite like the massive crowd that greeted us: exuberant, yelling thanks, holding signs and young children, proudly waving the stars and stripes. I had come to deliver the message that the Libyan people had a friend in the United States of America. At that moment, I could see how much the reverse also holds true.

Nick Kristof, New York Times columnist

I will never forget watching as the Chinese army opened fire on pro-democracy protesters by Tiananmen Square in the wee hours of June 4, 1989. I was in the crowd, interviewing demonstrators, as troops suddenly started firing automatic weapons directly at us. The din of gunfire mixed with screams of those hit, and we fled in terror. The bravest of us all were the rickshaw drivers. When there was a pause in the firing, they peddled toward the troops and picked up the bodies of those killed or injured, to take them to hospital. I remember one burly rickshaw man, tears streaming down his cheeks. It’s said that poor nations are unprepared for democracy, and there’s some truth to that. But that night, I saw impoverished and minimally educated rickshaw drivers who might have struggled to define democracy – and yet they were risking their lives for it.

Sgt. Dakota Meyer, USMC, Recipient of Medal of Honor

I will never forget visiting the construction site at 1 World Trade Center in New York City. We weren’t prepared for what greeted us – hundreds of police, firemen, construction workers, Wall St. guys, city officials, and families of the fallen. I saw some big ironworkers in hard hats standing off to one side. I walked over to them with an expression that said, help me out! When the ceremony ended, they sneaked me out the back to a work elevator. We climbed wooden ladders until we couldn’t go any farther. I stood there, looking out at the most vibrant city in the world, trying to make sense of it all. This was where it started. The people responsible for the deaths of so many here, had also killed my team. An ironworker handed me a silver magic marker. I wrote on the highest girder, For those who gave all. An empty phrase? I don’t think so. I chose to be a warrior – a Marine sniper. We who have chosen to be its defenders know that the whole nation is behind us – and we appreciate it.

Barbara Walters, ABC News

I will never forget….my older sister, who passed away some years ago. She was considered mentally challenged, but she challenged me to learn compassion and understanding. If I am at all sensitive in any of my interviews, it is because of what my sister taught me.

Ann Curry, Broadcast Correspondent and NBC Journalist

I will never forget why I became a journalist. When I was in high school, before the Internet and miracle machines that we now take for granted, it was a small and barely functioning TV that linked our family to the world. I sat in front of it with Dad to watch Walter Cronkite. It was how we first learned about the Civil Rights movement, Watergate and Vietnam. It was then that I first realized that what happened thousands of miles away mattered to us in Ashland, Oregon.

Family dinners after watching Walter are what I remember most. My mother, sisters and brothers would pick up their plates and eat in the living room while Dad and I went at it about the news. And that is the simplest way I can explain why I became a journalist: Walter and my father's fierce love of country and me.

Paulo Coelho, novelist and lyricist

English: I will never forget that day, back in July 1986, when took the first step from SW France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. I did not have faith in the road, and I was doing this to please my wife. But thanks to that pilgrimage (56 days walking) my life changed totally. I stopped dreaming about becoming a writer, and I decided to pay the price of my dreams, writing my first book.

Portuguese: Eu nunca vou me esquecer daquele dia, em Julho 1986, quando coloquei meu pé pela primeira vez no Caminho de Santiago. Não acreditava que ia resolver nada, e estava fazendo a peregrinaçao apenas para agradar minha mulher. Mas foram estes 56 dias de caminhada que mudaram por completo minha vida. Deixei de ser aquele que sonhava em transformar-se em um escritor, e escrevi meu primeiro livro.

Natalia Vodianova, model and social activist

I will never forget... on the 31st of November 1999 leaving Russia to pursue my modelling career. That first week was mind-blowing. Starting from the plane journey on Air France, where in economy class I was served a vegetarian lasagne. It was such an alien taste to me comparing to traditional Russian food I was used to. Today it seems unbelievable, but at the time it was the most delicious explosion in my mouth. Before that moment I had never seen baby courgette in my life or had anything like that "cream-pasta-vegetable" delicious culinary sensation. Then arriving to central Paris bathed in the sun, seeing beautifully dressed people, sensing delicious foreign smells and feeling the excitement of unknown. I knew I was given an opportunity to start a new life which could only get better from now on!

Ayman Mohyeldin, NBC News foreign correspondent

I will never forget February 11, 2011. Although it was 18 days into Egypt's revolution, that Friday morning began in an unusually normal way. I managed to grab breakfast with two of my friends who had also been covering the tumultuous events of the daily street protests. Towards the end of our breakfast, I received a phone call from a source at the airport who notified me that the there was some suspicious activity around the hanger where the presidential fleet of airplanes is housed. Immediately, there was a lot of buzz that a major announcement was expected soon from the Presidential Palace. A few hours later, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak stepped down from power essentially triggering celebrations, fireworks and a sense of elation that lasted through the night. I will never forget reporting from the balcony on the roaring crowds below and their optimism - all while trying to hold back my own tears and emotions from witnessing such an historic day.

Maria Sharapova, professional tennis player

I will never forget the night I arrived at the Wimbledon Ball as the Wimbledon champion. As they opened my door to walk in front of the photographers, it was then I realized that I had achieved something big enough for all these people to be there, to take my picture in something other than a tennis dress. As I quickly got lost in the flash light, my team quickly got out of there and made their way to the bar. Eight years and dozens of photo ops later, the image of me standing in front of those photographers as a seventeen year old, in a gold Louis Vuitton dress will never be forgotten.

Ari Shapiro, NPR White House Correspondent

I will never forget recording a story in the Air Force One bathroom. The plane was refueling in Germany after President Obama’s surprise trip to Afghanistan. I was told we had 45 minutes, and the bathroom was the only quiet place I could find. As I sat on the toilet with the microphone, I felt a surprising yet unmistakable vibration beneath me. The plane was rolling. Because Air Force One doesn’t give reporters wifi in the air, I had to send the file before takeoff. I tried not to let the panic into my voice as I frantically finished recording. Then I saw that my computer had kicked me offline. After reconnecting in a frenzy, I watched my file slowly upload. Air Force One's nose lifted into the air. “Your file is 32% sent.” …56%...78%... We hit the clouds. Finally, the message appeared: FILE SENT. Then I ordered a drink.

Coco Rocha, Model

I'll never forget when I did an Irish jig down a runway. From a young age I studied Irish dance and competed regularly. At 15 I was scouted by a modeling agent at an Irish dance competition and overnight modeling became my main focus. Two years later Jean Paul Gaultier had heard through the grapevine that I could dance and asked me to open and close his Scottish themed show with a jig. "Celtic is Celtic" he said and I literally jumped at the chance to combine my two worlds. I remember practicing a routine in my hotel room, all the while having this horrible vision in my head of leaping right off the catwalk into Anna Wintour's lap. The dance, I knew, would be infamous one way or the other. Vogue later called it "The Coco Moment" and my Irish jig became infamous for all the right reasons.

[Nicholas Thompson, senior editor at The New Yorker](https://www.facebook.com/nxthompson">

I will never forget how I got into journalism. I was 22 and just out of college. I’d been fired from my first job on the first day, so I decided to join a friend traveling through Africa. Very early on, I was playing guitar in a train station in Morocco when a man asked me to come to his house for dinner. I figured: why not? Then things started going very badly. Eventually, he locked me in a bathroom and told me I had to sell drugs for him in New York. I explained that I probably couldn’t clear customs. He and his brother then smoked a lot of pot, made threatening gestures, and made me eat a fish head. The next day, they emptied my wallet and, for whatever reason, let me go. I had lost sixty dollars, but I also had the beginning of my first story.

Rachel Zoe, CEO, Rachel Zoe Inc.

I will never forget presenting my debut Fall 2011 collection last year in New York. All of my fashion peers and mentors were in one room together, along with my amazing family and team, to witness my lifelong dream come to life. I was eight months pregnant, running around styling the models, tying bows backstage. Truly a “pinch me” moment.”

Charlie Rose, CBS This Morning and Charlie Rose Show host

I will never forget the night, when I was only four years old, that my father returned from two years at war. And I will never forget the thrill of getting to know him.

Don Lemon, CNN anchor

I will never forget the night my father died. I was just nine years old; yet I knew nothing would ever be the same. And it wasn’t. I became a man at 9. I had to. Not just because I was the only boy in my family and his death had catapulted my status from baby boy to man of the house. But because I had to instantly become a man in order to survive the challenges of growing up without a father. Anyone who loses his or her father at a young age knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Baratunde Thurston, Author of "How to Be Black"

I will never forget the night my mother died. In round-the-clock shifts over the course of weeks, my sister Belinda and I had attempted to move heaven and earth to save her from the precipice of stage five colon cancer. She was far gone, having forgotten our names but remembering her Apple laptop. We needed a break from constantly monitoring the hospital staff and went to a local Boston restaurant, somehow finding a way to have a meal full of hilarity and happiness. When we returned, our mother was gone. Initially we were devastated, but we also realized that passing over her laughing children was probably the best send off our mother could have had.

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