Throughout the year we have several days that are set aside to honor and remember those who have sacrificed for our country's freedom and for the safety of our country--Independence Day, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, etc. Yet it occurred to me over the course of this weekend that September 11 seems more like a memorial day to me than any of those other holidays. And then I realized that it's because, for me, it is actually a day with memories.
I whole heartedly express my patriotism and appreciation for our military, both past and present, on our other specified holidays. But often times those days hold very little meaning to me other than the fact that I take time to be thankful.
However, September 11 has a different affect on my emotions and the reasons I am thankful. Every year, on September 11, people will ask, "Do you remember where you were?" And I think to myself, how can I not remember? How could anyone forget where they were and what they were doing at the time that they heard such tragic news? And then of course the aftermath--not just in the days that followed, but in the weeks, and now in the years. I have memories from this day, and so this special day, though not an official holiday of memorials, is still more of a memorial day to me than Memorial Day is. But that's exactly what memorial means--it's something that reminds us of a person or an event.
Through this realization came another sobering thought. All of those other holidays that are purposed as days to remember our soldiers hold the same meaning for others around me. There are numerous people for whom the date December 7 holds the same sacredness as September 11 does for those in my generation. I've seen footage from the attacks on Pearl Harbor, and it does affect my emotions, but there's something different when you have actual memories of such a day. There are many who could tell us where they were and what they were doing when they learned of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. For many of us, Pearl Harbor Day may be just something we see pre-printed on our calendars and we fleetingly think of the tragedy of that day, and go on with our lives without giving that day another thought. But when September 11 roles around we spend the days leading up to it and the day of reflecting on the memories, the footage, and the fatalities still occurring as a result that tragic day.
I wanted to remember these thoughts I had, and to remember that while to me December 7 is another day to remember a historic event for our country, to others it is a day with memories and emotions attached. And while none of us have memories of that great day of our independence, I hope I can remember to better appreciate the full meaning of that day and to realize that it was a real day with real meaning, memories, and emotions for people gone before us.
May we never forget. A phrase almost to flippantly used, but full of so much truth and meaning if we really stop to think about it and pause to remember.