For people of an older generation, the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas was the seminal loss-of-innocence moment.
For those of us a little younger than that, it was the murder of John Lennon in New York City.
While most of us who lived through it still remember the feelings of existential shock that crashed over us that December in 1980, for the most part we now prefer to mark not that dark, hopeless time, but rather the day of John Lennon's birth: Oct. 9.
He would have been 70 years old this Saturday.
As a fitting celebration of Lennon's life, our own A&E Editor and resident Beatles expert Bill DeYoung is hosting a birthday party of sorts this Saturday at Muse Arts Warehouse on Louisville Road, featuring some rare video clips from Lennon's career - and possibly some other surprises as well.
While the event is free, all donations to the nonprofit venue are appreciated.
Looking back over these 30 years, it seems that, as with the assassinations of the ‘60s, the murder of Lennon was not only tragic in and of itself, but symbolic of the ushering in of a new form of evil in American life.
It was not without irony. In a morbid fashion not unlike his own often-morbid sense of black humor, Lennon would die in the city he loved most in the world.
One could make the case that America itself - the place that welcomed Lennon most intensely and yet would also spawn both his assassin and the accompanying culture of casual violence - suffered a death of its own that day.
At the risk of getting too metaphysical, it's hard to escape the sense that 1980 coincided with a sea change in American life, a time when the things Lennon himself worked most energetically against - the elevation of corporate values over the personal, the encouragement of division along religious and cultural lines, the disparity of wealth - became ascendant.
An iconic movie of the 1980s, with a sequel out right now, put that new ethos best: "Greed is good."
While the world is certainly poorer for Lennon's untimely demise, perhaps it's best that he didn't live to see what we would turn into.
Lennon's continuing popularity, both as a musician and as an all-encompassing media and political icon, is rich in irony as well.
Many is the conservative who professes his or her love for Lennon and his music, without a mention of the fact that he was, politically, culturally and philosophically, as far from conservative as you could possibly get.
It's a testament to Lennon's enduring, very human appeal, and an irony he would likely have appreciated.
As always, the unanswered question remains:
Why is it always the ones who seek to move society forward, to progress, who are on the receiving end of the assassin's bullet?
You are unlikely to get the answer to that question at Saturday's event at Muse, but you will have a lot of fun. It's what John would have wanted.
Correction: We recently wrote about an appearance by the Upright Citizens Brigade Touring Company at the Lucas Theatre, but left off the "Touring Company" part. We apologize for the error and any misunderstanding it might have caused.
And lastly: You'll notice a lot more color in our pages this week. We have switched printers and hope you enjoy the result!