Tomorrow in the USA we celebrate Memorial Day. It’s an important day to remember and thank the men and women who have fought for our country, and their families as well. As I think about Memorial Day of course there’s a feeling of sadness for all those people we’ve lost over the many years of battle, as well as the family members who never got to know those people. War isn’t easy, and it shouldn’t be easy, otherwise we might have to deal with more of it which wouldn’t be good.
But with the topic of loss on my mind recently in addition to tomorrow’s talk of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, it has me thinking once again about the loss that the world is experiencing when it comes to the past. As much as I tend to think (and write) about the future and not about the past, or at least not about the past in the sense of dwelling on it, the past is important. Every day more and more older folk slip further into Alzheimers and other memory-destroying diseases, every day seniors die, every day people who have great stories but have put off telling them die. When you die or your memory is gone, your stories die, unless you’ve told them to someone or made some kind of record of them beforehand.
Memorial Day is all about remembering the men and women who have fought for our country, and I hope you take time tomorrow to honor those men and women. But I can’t help adding in encouragement to also talk with your elderly relatives and friends, and even with the people your own age, and share your stories and hear theirs. Take time to share a story with your kids this weekend from the past about one of your relatives or friends and help them connect with someone they may never know. If you don’t think anyone wants to hear your stories right now you could start a blog and write all of them down for someday in the future, or you could hire someone to come and record you sharing the stories (which would be extra special for the future generations who will never meet you). Not sure your stories are really worth telling? I wish I could sit down with my grandparents and hear their stories, but they’ve all been lost to the sands of time in one way or another (3 dead, one with memory loss). Their stories are special, their lives are special. The future is built on those stories, and the relationships and events that they share about. You and I are here because of things that happened many memories ago.
History, and the past, is more than just a random grouping of dates and facts (if that’s all it was, it would be pretty boring). In reality history is made up of people who lived lives, enjoyed each other’s company, cried and laughed together, learned from their mistakes and had dreams, just like we do today. Yes, sometimes remembering those we’ve lost can be painful, but the pain is a little less when we remember the good times and the stories they shared with us and memories we made together. Who will you remember today?