The term ‘Lest we forget’ was a repetitive phrase used in the the 1897 Rudyard Kipling poem, Recessional. It was then later used by the British Commonwealth during Remembrance Day services following World War I. After World War II, it was rejuvenated by the United States regarding the bombing of the U.S. military base on the Territory Islands of Hawaii. Today, many people speak this phrase or they utter ‘Never forget’ with regard to the simultaneous attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.
We speak these words and similar words during remembrance services and observances, but what do we actually remember? Or better still, what are we supposed to remember?
I predict there will be protesting regarding this article and many may stop following this blog given the things I am prepared to state here. I will be called un-American and un-patriotic. These are simply untrue.
Reading the posts and memes, and watching the videos people post on Facebook, I step back and just shake my head in wonder. There are those who remember the damage done to buildings and land. Others remember the lives lost/sacrificed in the attacks. Then you have those who remember the hatred, the pain.
For as long as I can remember, Memorial Day was a special day of celebration. We paid tribute to and celebrated the lives of those who died in service to this country. As I pay tribute on that day every year, I remember as far back to the war to gain independence. I watch as many people pay tribute to anyone who has died and had once served in the military. It disturbs me that people also use Memorial Day to honor those who are Veterans and those who currently serve in the armed forces. They have their days, Memorial Day is for the fallen.
Many wars have been fought around the world since the beginning of time. These wars have shaped our world into what it is at present. As I have stated in previous posts, we cannot change the past. Things have happened, they are over, we are where we are today.
In these aforementioned articles I have written, I have also stated one of my favorite quotes by George Santayana, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it”. You can substitute the word remember for the word learn in this quote and it works perfectly.
If remembering certain events in your history causes you to only remember the pain, anger and hatred, perhaps it is best to forget. Remembering lives lost allows those souls to live on, and their sacrifices held in heart for what they gave for those who did not perish.
Many people today, do not remember the mood of the United States as word spread following the bombing of Pearl Harbor thrusting us into World War II. It’s been forgotten. The further back in time we travel, lives lost, property demolished, Earth damaged are all forgotten. There are those who strive to keep the memory alive by having one day a year for acknowledgement. But with each passing year, this too, diminishes.
This year on September 11th, the state of Florida was being hit by hurricane Irma. She gulped all the water in the Bahamas after wreaking havoc in Cuba, then she set her sights on Florida. As Irma pounded on Florida, her residents, some evacuated to other states and some further inland hoping for safety, watched and waited. Would the preventative measures taken in the homes and businesses be enough to prevent Irma from leaving a catastrophic mess in her wake? Friends and loved ones of Floridians stayed near phones and computers waiting and watching, fretting each minute that ticked by their loved one became a victim of this fiendish, turbulent woman.
On Facebook, waiting to make sure all of my friends in Florida were safe, I read posts. I became a bit vexed upon reading several posts where the writers were perturbed and even angry that focus was on Florida and not on the sixteenth anniversary of the attacks on New York and Washington D.C. They couldn’t seem to understand why these people in Florida were more concerned with their own troubles than with what happened to this country as a whole sixteen years ago.
If you check U.S. calendars, many of them still include D-Day, VE Day, VJ Day and Pearl Harbor Day. Allow me to speculate, say a Category 5 hurricane was sweeping up the entire East Coast on July 3, 4 and 5. Would these same small-minded people lambaste all the residents of those states for focusing on self preservation as opposed to celebrating Independence Day?
Lest We Forget, remember.
Yes, these things happened. Yes, lives were lost. Yes, harm was done. However, remembering those who were lost keeps them alive. Remembering how they were lost keeps us on track for future prevention of the actions reoccurring. The thing we need to remember is that in the midst of turmoil, it is near impossible to stop and memorialize an event that happened a decade and a half before.
Leave the past in the past. This is where it belongs. Learn from it. Move forward and keep remembering the people even if not by name or face, remember that souls vanished. Remember, so true healing can be found.
World War I left us with Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Fields. In this the poppies seen growing wild in the fields were used to bring remembrances of all those who died fighting during The Great World War. The poppy is still used today during Remembrance Day services. Perhaps we need a memorial flower for the lives lost on September 11, 2001. I suggest the Buttercup. It is a wild flower indigenous to the United States and grows most everywhere, including the areas where the planes were crashed. It is delicate, like the lives sacrificed. It is yellow, a sunny, soothing and healing color. The lives lost on September 11, 2001 mattered. There is nothing we can do to change the fact that they are gone. Actively thinking about lives that are currently in the balance is where our focus should be, not on events we cannot go back to change.
Remember the lives. Forget the hate.