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Gathering to watch history

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We gathered around the cheap black-and-white television to watch history, 40 years ago today. There were just a handful of us, college students who shared the rent at this run-down house near campus. We had been enjoying the leisurely pace of a summer semester, now suddenly interrupted as the world turned upside down.

We were not there to celebrate, although no one thought President Richard Nixon’s fall was undeserved. I don’t recall fear, worry, sadness or glee. There wasn’t much discussion, although we thought of ourselves as politically astute and aware. I just remember being awestruck by the sheer historic weight of what we saw — for the first time a president resigned his office midterm. Although the president tried to put a brave spin on it, everyone knew he was twisting and turning and exiting in disgrace. Had he stayed, impeachment in the House of Representatives was only days away. Conviction by the Senate would surely follow.

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