Memorial Day is a day to honor and remember those individuals who have given their lives while in the U.S. military service. It began sometime in the late 1860’s to pay homage to and decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers, although it was not officially a federal holiday until 1971. Regardless of its beginning, it should give everyone a moment of pause to salute, in whatever manner, to those who made those decisions to put on uniforms to represent and give their lives as U.S. soldiers.
Memory is a funny thing, though. We vow to various things -- “We will never forget,” yet somehow we really do. It is not that these things do not matter. We just somehow find a place of comfort, or perhaps just routine, so that we put some things to the back of our mind, and subtly, from our purpose.
We have very recently seen the unbelievable destruction in Joplin, Missouri. Houses, hospitals, entire communities were flatted and strewn over miles. We ache for those who stand outside the cracked and splintered remnants of their homes, either engulfed in tears or stunned to silence. The images take your breath away.
Those are images that we think we will never forget. Yet... Do you recall the images of Christchurch, New Zealand? That was just in January. Five months ago. Or how about Fukashima, Japan? Two months ago. Don’t you remember?
If we did remember, we would be assembling our emergency kits for our home, our car, our workplace. We would be contacting our relatives out of state to contact during emergencies. We would be securing important paperwork, such as insurance policies, birth certificates, prescription drug lists and dog licenses in a place we could access if we could not enter our houses. We would talk to our neighbors about assembling community teams to support one another during disasters. We would do these things because we haven’t forgotten New Orleans, Haiti, Christchurch or Fukashima.
We do mean that “We will never forget.” We just sometimes don’t remember.