Today is a day of remembrance. It is a day of reflection.
Here are a few of the things I choose to consciously reflect upon this day. You may agree…you may not agree. Regardless, I hope you too spend some time reflecting on what this Memorial Day means to you. How will your life be changed because you choose to remember?
Today I will remember the day I was in the DFW airport and saw a display that was a tribute to fallen soldiers. I remember the streams of tears that fell down my face. They were the tears of a mother who wanted her 20-year-old son to come home. They were the tears of a husband who would never see his wife again. These were not my tears. They were the tears of those who loved deeply, shed through me.
Today I will remember the list of names that scrolled across my tv screen. A list of names of women and men who died in service to their country. I will remember and be thankful because while I was in my 6th period high school English class learning about Hamlet and wishing the bell would ring so I could go home, these women and men were fighting and dying so that I had a house and family I could go home to. I will remember the families and friends who have to go on living their lives, though the lives of those who they loved most are no more. I remember that to go on living is sometimes a great a cost to pay as well.
I will remember that fear and hatred are the enemy and never people…Because of fear, I have taken away the freedom of others and given away my own freedom at times. Because of fear a 13-year-old boy named Zubair and his little sister Nabeela are afraid to go outside and play because, ” an (American) drone attack hit their home, and blew their grandmother to bits while she was working in the garden.“ These are the things I do not want to remember but I will remember them anyway. I will remember the times I spent in the garden with my grandmother. I remember how we could dig holes and pick tomatoes without fear and that maybe someone died so that we could do so. I will remember the duplicity of the world we live in. I will remember that whenever I pick up a gun to defend myself, innocent people like Zubair’s grandmother on both sides of the fence die. I pray the guns we carry become heavier and the triggers more difficult to pull. I will remember that it is sometimes more noble and brave to take a bullet rather than to plant one.
I will remember to not let my criticism of my country get in the way of the love I have for the people of this country. I will choose to love today. I will choose to forgive my country for the evils we have committed and have yet to commit. I will also choose to forgive those who have committed such evils against my country and the ones I love. I will remember to love them too. I will choose to acknowledge and remember the fear and hate I have carried at times. I choose to forgive myself for having such fear and hatred. I will remember to show compassion.
I will remember that the ones I trust the most may lie to me. And the one I consider my enemy may indeed be telling the truth. And I will remember that my enemy is not really my enemy, but rather fear and hate are my enemies. I will remember that no country, nation, or person is all good…none is all evil.
I will remember to be both thankful and mournful. I will remember the people who gave their lives so that I might live. I will remember to be compassionate and loving toward people who have different values than I do. I will forgive the people in my own country, church, and family who hold and act upon views that are degrading to others. I will remember that I too have held and still do hold some such views. I will remember that sacrifices have been made and will continue to be made. I am grateful for this gift of life I have been given, that it has been paid for with blood of others who I can never even begin to thank. I show my gratefulness by remembering.
Today I choose not to forget, but to remember. I do so in the hope that I can learn and do better. Will you too remember? Will you remember the cost of the freedom you have and the responsibility that goes with it? A price was paid. A life was given. Will you remember?