Tuesday, September 11, 2012


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

Violet Nesdoly / poems

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Linda at teacherdance said...

Hi Violet, I do remember most of those days, & have passed on what stories I have to my children. I was a toddler on VE day, but my mother's story is that the sirens rang all day in our little town, causing both delight for some & suffering for others whose loved ones wouldn't be coming home. I agree with the 9-11, that the students in our school don't remember. The oldest were toddlers then & a few only remember that their parents were upset. It's their history now. I enjoyed your post, & seeing the photo of the special statue.

Mary Haskett said...

Hi Violet,

Sobering memories of some good and some tragic events. Yes one of my vivid memories is, as a child in the south of England when a German plane flew low firing at me and my terrified playmates.

Today we are hearing of more tragic events happening around the world. We have to be thankful we know the one who knows all.

violet said...

Linda, what a memory for your mom on VE Day (see, she did a good job of passing her story on to you!). And I know how good you are at communicating with your grandkids. They are in good hands!

Mary, from your book The Reverend Mother's Daughter I recall you have quite a few memories of the war. I was amazed at that book and how well you remembered. I too can't imagine going through tragic events without the anchor of my faith.

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