Editor's note: To share your story of where you were when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and to read others' accounts, click here.
By Jeff Gralnick, former Executive Producer, NBC Nightly News
There are moments in the life of the news and the nation that you never forget or forget where you were when they happened.
Today is one of those days.
I know exactly where I was when Dr. King was shot and it may have been the only place on the planet where it seemed not to matter: I Corps, South Vietnam, about 8 miles below the so-called demilitarized zone. I was out with my CBS News film crew and a Marine unit in search of combat when the news from Memphis reached us and we went instantly into "news reactive mode."
We chased reaction. White grunts. Black grunts. And asked, What do you think? What does it mean? And of course: How do you feel?
Mostly, the answers were shrugs, but there is one I have never forgotten. Black NCO. He looked up from his mess kit and said, "Sad, man, but does that mean those guys gonna stop shooting at me?" And it didn't.
We shipped the film, forgot about it and went back to covering the war.
Two months later almost to the day it happened again when Sen. Kennedy was shot, only this time my film crew and I were on the deck of the USS America, an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Gulf of Tonkin. We had a helluva story on the air war north that few news crews got to. When the news from Los Angeles reached, I looked at my cameraman and said, "We might as well toss this film over the side."
And we did. And we didn't bother shooting any interviews. We just sat and talked with some officers asking one another one simple question.
How could this kind of thing have happened - twice?
Long time ago, but the memories adhere and so do the questions.
And they should.