Memorial Day Remembering

Posted: May 28, 2013 in Reflections

There is something about remembering that propels us forward.

In The Bible the children of Israel are told to create altars and rock piles as places to remember what happened in a particular place. But never are they told to “live there” where those memories are triggered. In fact they are told to use those places as a means to teach others along the way what God has done before. There is a sense of leaning forward in this method. God says, when your children ask you, what is this for? You will tell them the story of God. It is both future and past.

How do we build our altars of remembraces? Holidays seem to work well as long as they are not hijacked by commercialism or media hype. Today is Memorial Day. It is a day set aside to remember fallen soldiers. A day to remember those who have died in service to their country. It makes me think of my grandfather, one who served faithfully in WWII. Who came home and could not share what he faced there. The atrocities he witnessed were more than he could form words for. I could tell he felt it deeply and profoundly.

It bothered me that he did not have his medals he earned while serving. When I asked him about it, he tried to assure me he didn’t feel like he deserved any medals except his combat badge. He didn’t believe he deserved any such honors when so many never made it home. He especially cried over the thought of receiving a purple heart for his injury. He said, “I still have my life.”

I got his permission to try and contact someone to see if we could get his medals. I convinced him it was one way as his offspring we could see the stories he could not talk about. He was battling cancer and was getting weaker all the time. I was certain he would love to have his medals once he saw them. I got to work making calls and it was not long before we had connected to the right department.

Long story short, Grandpa died just short of the medals arriving in the mail. He never got to hold them. We tearfully and carefully laid them all out, studying the meaning behind each star, each ribbon, each symbol. The medals told the stories he never could. I share the medals with my children and tell the story of Grandpas service. I tell them how he left his family and went to a far away place. And, we all think of a soldier who now serves his country in a far away place. A new conflict, new stories, new horrors. Men and women leaving home, struggling with leaving loved ones behind but doing it so someone else doesn’t have to do it. Sacrifice.

I remember my Grandpa, I think of now. I teach my children and lean forward with them to the future. Memorials are important for us. In remembering we live more fully in the now and lean more confidently to the future. Time spans our remembering in ways that connect us to the past and future at the same time!

  1. Emilie says:

    Very awesome. I like that concept of “remembering” but not “living there”. It’s a delicate balance.

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