Why We Can Never Forget
With all of the media attention on the statues, and protests about the statues, and the reasons why there are statues, I have thought long and hard about weighing in on the topic. You see, I do not like conflict. I just really, really don’t like conflict or for anyone to be upset with me or anyone else, so I have kept my opinions to myself for the most part. However, this morning, the 16th anniversary of that horrible day of terror in America, I just cannot keep the thoughts and feelings and opinions to myself.
I just really, really don’t like conflict or for anyone to be upset with me or anyone else, so I have kept my opinions to myself for the most part. However, this morning, on the 16th anniversary of that horrible day of terror in America, I just cannot keep the thoughts and feelings and opinions to myself.
I remember the moment I learned of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center along with most Americans who were of the age and ability of contemplation. I remember the fear, the dread, and the understanding that nothing would be the same again. I remember the newscasts and how they were taken off the air so as not to cause more conflict or hate. I remember the songs that were written and beautifully sang that was taken off the radio because someone said that a reminder of that tragic day would only foster hate and sorrow. But here’s the thing; we can never, ever, forget. If you were alive then and had a recognition of that day, you will never forget it because it was life changing for everyone born and not yet born. The way we travel, the way we view our world, the way we view one another changed that day.
No matter what laws you make or how much something offends you, you cannot un-change things by taking reminders off of the television, the radio, or by tearing down monuments.
The only thing we can do now is to remember and remind ourselves that we can and must be different, and be better. Blaming one race or religion for the appalling behavior of those involved in the terrorist acts on 09/11/2001 only causes more terror. Blaming people you encounter in 2017 for any number of egregious acts in history, no matter how awful those acts were, only causes more pain. Blaming any one person for the actions of another makes no sense because we all must choose how we behave and respond to what we see, think, and feel. This is why taking down reminders, statues, and all memorials can only cause more pain; because we must remember what was so that it will not be again. Denying slavery, the holocaust, the wars we have fought personally or as a nation is like putting a band-aid on an open artery; it doesn’t work, it CANNOT work because the denial of a problem only delays the inevitable outcomes of the problem.
George Santayana, is credited for one of the most famous quotes about this topic
“Those who do not remember their history are condemned to repeat it.”
I personally would like to live in a world where we all choose peace, love, and kindness. I would like to leave this world better for having been there and I want to be a part of things that will cause that change in our world. Ultimately, any world changing behavior begins inside each person as Mahatma Gandhi said so eloquently:
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Some of us remember because the war still rages inside though. For those who fought and cannot forget we pray peace. For those who love them, we pray peace. For our world, I pray peace and that in our remembering we will also change what needs changing inside ourselves.
I wrote the following poem in 2007 I think, about a person I care very much for and for his family.
Lost In the Sand
We were so happy when he came home safe and sound
Not a scar or a scratch could be seen
But we found later that they were there, just out of sight
And while his body came home, his spirit was lost
Missing In Action, a Prisoner of War
When we drive past innocuous buildings in the city now, he shows us which ones would be good sniper posts
He gives us unrequested tips on where we could hide if we were to suddenly be under fire
And he drinks beer from the time he wakes up till he lays his head down at night
Never water, it could be poisoned
And never from a container opened by someone else
He doesn’t trust anyone.
His daughter didn’t want to see the differences in him
But his wife couldn’t help it
Especially after he woke her one night by punching her in the face
He hadn’t meant to hurt her of course
He was dreaming and the enemy haunted his dreams
Then she became the enemy in his waking hours too
Requiring more of him than he could give by simply needing him to come home
All the way home
And leave the sand behind
He never could though
So he left her too
He carries his wounds deep inside,
So far no one can see,
Unless they loved him before he went to war
Then they know
And they wait for him to return, all the way, from the sand.