September 11th, 2001 is one of those days that will be forever engraved in my memory. Eleven years ago today after spending hours transfixed in front of the TV, I remember how strange it felt to go outside and find everything was normal. However the next morning the spooky quiet in the air—there wasn't a plane to be heard—told me that the long fingers of the unthinkable thing that had happened the day before in New York had indeed reached thousands of miles across the continent to me.
But as significant as the day was and is, it is also fading from my memory and our collective memories. Just think, there is a whole generation of kids eleven years and younger who have no memory of this day whatever because they weren't around when it happened.
Other important days are fading too. This year we lost Neil Armstrong—the first man who walked on the moon. His passing sparked a storm of nostalgia and prompted me to think back to the momentous day when a human first touched the moon. To tell you the truth, I could recall very little of it.
How well do you remember:
- the death of J. F. Kennedy?
- the fall of the Soviet Union?
- the kafuffle around Y2K?
- the beginning of the Iraq war?
- the tsunami of December 26, 2004?
- Hurricane Katrina?
Chances are if you remember a national or international event, it is because there is a part of your personal story that connects with that event.
Is remembering the past important? I think it is because:
- it helps us understand the present.
- as we think back of heroic actions and reactions it revives our faith in human strength and resilience.
- if we're people of faith, it certainly strengthens our faith in God as we reflect on His faithfulness through hard times and in bringing us to this point.
- it is interesting.
- it's part of the legacy we can leave our kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids.
What significant days from history do you remember? What about your personal history? Have you or are you preserving your memories in any way?
I love the bronze sculpture "The Veteran Sailor" (by Nathan Scott, on display at Ship Point Plaza on the Victoria B.C. waterfront) of a sailor, holding a copy of The Daily Colonist with the headline "Peace in Europe: Germany Surrenders!"
He looks happily onto another scene, "The Homecoming" (also by Nathan Scott) on this memorable day—a day of which I have no memory because I wasn't born yet. Probably most of you weren't either. Fortunately lots has been written about that day so we can live it vicariously.
After posting this piece on memories, I ran across an example of how important it is to hand down memories. Kitty Werthmann is a woman who grew up in Austria (she now lives in the U.S.A.) and remembers how Hitler came to power there. If you listen to her story, you'll pick up on some of the shocking parallels between western society today and Austrian and German society in the 1930s (She tells her story on three videos).
Kitty Werthmann's story - Part 2
Kitty Werthmann's story - Part 3