Early morning, April four
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky.
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride.
It may have been early morning in Dublin. But it wasn’t early morning in Memphis. In Memphis, it was 6PM when the shots rang out. I know this always sounded strange to me, so I looked it up today. Because I remember that day.
April 4, 1968 in OKC, it would have been 5PM when the shots rang out. And about 6PM when he died. On that evening, I was sitting in a car with my family in Norman, Oklahoma. The same Norman, Oklahoma, where the recent U2 concert was held.
I remember sitting in the car with my family … well, with my mom and my sister. We were in the Pontiac Grand Prix. It was red with a white top and electric windows! We were waiting on my father and brother, who were looking at a car because my brother would be age 16 in a month’s time and getting his driver’s license.
It was also the day after my sister’s birthday and I remember thinking, “why are we looking for a car for Steve when it is Carole’s birthday?” A month away is a long while in kid times. I was the youngest. Steve was the oldest. Carole was in the middle. So if Steve was 15 turning 16, Carole just turned 13 and I was 10 years old.
News came on the radio that Dr. King had been shot. It seems like mom got out of the car and motioned for my dad to come back. Quiet but very concerned talk between them. Seems like we headed home immediately. End of that memory. Were they concerned with potential violence or rioting? Maybe they were just done with the car shopping. I don’t remember. One of those questions that it is too late to ask now. What did they think about it at the time … that sort of thing.
So anyway, some days later, Brother Steve ended up with the car they had been looking at - a 1964 Pontiac GTO. Gray. Smokin’ hot. Smokin’. I was never cooler than when riding with my big brother in his gray goat.
Thirty odd years later, John and I visited Memphis and saw the motel where Dr. King was killed. It is suspended in time … 1968. But right next door is the most incredible Civil Rights Museum. An amazing city, I’d love to go back again and explore some more.
I’ve spent some time in the last couple of days looking up some of the Biblical references used in U2’s music and am even more impressed than ever before.