The unsolved mystery of the John Lennon memorial

In the Some Things You Never Forget Department . . .

Today marks another anniversary of the murder of singer / songwriter / social activist and former member of the Beatles John Lennon — gunned down outside his New York City apartment on the night of Dec. 8, 1980. I’m often reminded by friends from college that we heard the shocking news in my dorm room at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro while watching Monday Night Football — usually a harmless endeavor with only a pony keg in any serious jeopardy. The voice of ABC sports broadcaster Howard Cosell delivered the announcement in a somber tone far short of his usual volume and bombast.

For me Monday Night Football was never really the same again. Lennon was a towering figure in my world. The night it happened, we immediately left my room for another down the hall where a friend had a major Beatles tribute on his walls. We sat there stunned and listened to Lennon and Beatles tunes for a few hours.

I never forget it when any Monday Night Football game is on at my house, probably why I seldom watch Monday Night Football and haven’t for years.

The date is also reminder of another memory — this one from my time in newspapers. This occurred for a few years after I started working for the Burlington Times-News the first time in 1984. My first day was on Nov. 30. A little more than a week later I was leaving the office after filing a story about a high school basketball game. As I walked out the front door facing South Main Street, there was a display attached to the outside. It was a memorial to John Lennon on the anniversary of his death.

Over the next few years this continued. I wasn’t always the person who saw it first. Frequently it was a newsroom staffer who arrived early to put out the afternoon newspaper we published back in those days. Once we even produced a short story about it.

John lennon story

But no one knew who made this annual effort. We never found out. One year the tribute stopped and never returned.

So on this day every year I remember the great songs and contributions of John Lennon — things an assassin’s bullet couldn’t take away. I also think about the person who took the time to create a makeshift memorial and wonder where he or she is today.

Give peace a chance, y’all.




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