Over some forty years of research in Java, I have regularly encountered Javanese informants for whom the mass killings of 1965-1966 remain a pivotal point of moral reference in their lives. My first encounter with the contours and life consequences of the violence was in Pasuruan, East Java, in the late 1970s and mid-1980s. In the course of carrying out interviews in some 12 villages in an upland region, I stumbled on to evidence of massive demographic shifts in the 1965-1966 period, and encountered both perpetrators and victims of the violence determined to relate its chronology and assess its morality. I had a second sustained encounter while carrying out historical interviews with Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah activists in Jakarta and Yogyakarta in the 1990s and early 2000s. In this paper, I revisit and re-analyze all three of these encounters with the legacy of the 1965-1966 violence, juxtaposing them with more recent studies of the killings. My analysis emphasizes that both sociologically and life-experientially the memory of the violence remains a key point of moral reference in Javanese society, among both victims and perpetrators. I also suggest that, although silence remains the preferred option in some circles, over the past generation there has been a profound shift in both the salience and tenor of discussions of the violence. The shift reflects both the achievements and ambivalences of historical memory in post-New Order Indonesia.