Remember, and Never Forget

  Memento, homo, quia pulvis est, et in pulverem reverterit.

When important things happen in the world, my dad always reminds me to remember.  Remember what you saw, what you felt, so that you can tell the story to your children.  He's told me to remember so many times - when we watched the last shuttle launch from NASA...when the Chilean miners were rescued...when I attended the canonization of St. John Paul II...when 9-11 happened.

Remember.  Where were you?  What were you doing?

Not forgetting is different than remembering.  Remembering, calling to mind an experience, is an active thing, while "not forgetting" just means filing it away in the back of our heads to be pulled out later.  History is built by little people.  The great ones provide the impetus, but each one of us is deeply vital to the story of God's work in the world.  History is not only a story of actions, but also consequences and reactions.  How will our children understand their world if we don't tell them how it came to be this way?  How will the fallen be honored if we don't mark their deaths?

Why do we remember?

We remember so that we can honor the lives lost.
We remember so that we can grasp history without the taint of media bias.
We remember so that we can learn.
We remember so that we can understand the impact of an event.
We remember so that we can pray.
We remember so that we can keep perspective.
We remember because remembering is something we can do, something active and concrete.

Joy or sorrow, fear or love, consolation, regret, an encounter with beauty or an encounter with death - the moments in our lives shape us into who we are.  Memories remind us, both individually and as a nation, of our identity, which is not wholly of our making.

Remember, and never forget.