The Day It Happened

Watch The Day It Happened

  • 1968
  • 1 Season

The Day It Happened is a documentary series produced by ABC News that explores some of America's most notable historical events through the accounts of eyewitnesses and those closest to the tragedies. Each episode covers a different event, including the Oklahoma City bombing, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the September 11th terrorist attacks, and Hurricane Katrina.

Using archival footage, interviews, and dramatic reenactments, the show provides a detailed and personal perspective of what happened on each of these tragic days. The first-hand accounts from survivors, first responders, and witnesses, combined with expert analysis from historians and journalists, give viewers a thorough understanding of the events that changed our world.

The Day It Happened takes a humanizing approach to each event, delving into the emotions and stories of the people involved. In the episode covering Hurricane Katrina, for instance, the show focuses on the perspective of the New Orleans police department, who were on the ground as the storm hit and its aftermath unfolded. The officers describe their heroic efforts to save lives and keep order, even as they dealt with the chaos and destruction around them.

Similarly, in the episode on the Oklahoma City bombing, viewers hear from family members of those who were killed or injured in the attack, as well as survivors who narrowly escaped with their lives. The first-person accounts of the fear, confusion, and devastation experienced by those closest to the event provide a poignant tribute to the victims and a sobering reminder of the impact of violence on our communities.

The Day It Happened also puts these events into context, exploring their lasting impact on our society and the world. In the episode on 9/11, for example, the show examines the changes to American foreign policy and national security in the wake of the attacks. The episode on the JFK assassination similarly explores the conspiracy theories and speculation that have surrounded the event since it occurred, shedding light on the enduring mysteries that continue to fuel public fascination.

Overall, The Day It Happened offers a sober and impactful look at some of the defining moments of American history. By focusing on the stories of those who lived through these tragedies, the show humanizes the events and allows viewers to understand the impact they had on individuals, families, and communities. With its thoughtful and detailed approach, The Day It Happened is an important contribution to our understanding of these pivotal moments in our nation's history.

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1960 Presidential Debate: John F. Kennedy versus Richard Nixon
21. 1960 Presidential Debate: John F. Kennedy versus Richard Nixon
September 26, 1960
The first time presidential debates were seen in the home through a television set.
Chernobyl Disaster
20. Chernobyl Disaster
April 26, 1986
On April 26,1986 was the worst nuclear power plant accident in history which resulted with explosions, fire, and a large release of radioactive waves into the surrounding areas.
The Northeast Blackout of 2003
19. The Northeast Blackout of 2003
August 14, 2003
Approximately 10 million in Ontario and an additional 45 million people across eight states in the US were affected by a colossal power outage in 2003.
New York City Blackout of 1977
18. New York City Blackout of 1977
July 13, 1977
New York City was left in the dark on July 13th and 14th in 1997, which caused a lot of robbery, arson, and looting in the city.
Black Monday Market Crash
17. Black Monday Market Crash
October 19, 1987
On October 19, 1987 the stock markets around the world began to crash for no reason.
Three Mile Island Accident
16. Three Mile Island Accident
March 28, 1979
On March 28, 1979 the reactor core of a nuclear power plant in the Susquehanna River experienced a malfunction which released a significant amount of radioactivity.
The Death of Princess Diana
15. The Death of Princess Diana
August 31, 1997
ABC News takes you back to August 31, 1997 when a car accident claimed the life of Princess Diana.
The Columbine Shootings
14. The Columbine Shootings
April 20, 1999
ABC News takes you back to April 20, 1999 when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 13 people and wounded 33 before taking their own lives at Columbine High School.
The Stock Market Crash of 1987
13. The Stock Market Crash of 1987
October 19, 1987
ABC News takes you to the stock market crash of 1987 when their was an astounding 22 percent decline on Wall Street.
Death In Waco
12. Death In Waco
April 19, 1993
The day the compound outside of Waco, TX was engulfed in flames killing David Koresh a self described Messiah and 75 of his followers including children.
The Oklahoma City Bombing
11. The Oklahoma City Bombing
April 19, 1995
The Oklahoma City Bombing which caused 168 deaths and injured 500.
The Assassination of President Kennedy
10. The Assassination of President Kennedy
November 22, 1963
ABC News takes you back to November 22, 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
O.J. Simpson Car Chase
9. O.J. Simpson Car Chase
June 17, 1994
Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were found slain in the middle of the night, after being charged with their killings O.J. Simpson led police in a car chase for hours in his white Ford Bronco.
Start of the 1991 Gulf War
8. Start of the 1991 Gulf War
January 17, 1991
The United States immediately attacked when the Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait deadline passed on January 17, 1991.
The Fall of the Berlin Wall
7. The Fall of the Berlin Wall
November 9, 1989
Watch as Diane Sawyer and Sam Donaldson cover the Berlin Wall being forced apart after three decades of the East and West Berliners being separated, including a live interview with President Reagan.
Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster
6. Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster
January 28, 1986
ABC News brings you back to January 28, 1986 when seven astronauts died aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger.
Royal Wedding: Prince Charles and Lady Diana
5. Royal Wedding: Prince Charles and Lady Diana
July 29, 1981
The fairy tale wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.
The Shooting of President Reagan
4. The Shooting of President Reagan
March 30, 1981
On March 30, 1981 no one knew President Reagan was shot, until the TV showed James Brady in a pool of blood and the president being pushed into his car.
President Nixon Resigns
3. President Nixon Resigns
August 8, 1974
President Nixon resigned from office on August 8, 1974 which brought an end to the speculation of the Watergate scandal.
Munich Olympics - Black September Hostage Situation
2. Munich Olympics - Black September Hostage Situation
September 5, 1972
With the tensions rising in the Middle East and the Vietnam war the Olympic Games in 1972 promised home and unity, until 11 Israeli athletes were captured and killed by a group called Black September. ABC News takes you back to September 5, 1972 with interviews with members of the Israeli team and reports from Peter Jennings.
Assassination of Robert Kennedy
1. Assassination of Robert Kennedy
June 5, 1968
While campaigning in LA Robert Kennedy was fatally wounded. ABC News brings you back to June 5, 1968 with the pictures from the shooting and an interview with a bystander.
  • Premiere Date
    June 5, 1968