Memorial Day. Two words that bring forth powerful emotions and memories of both of those from our past as well as our present. We think of the past and those deceased while at the same time our memories are full of family celebrations, and the laughter and love that speaks of life itself.
I was thinking of both of those as I watched the film on the news of the inauguration ceremony of National September 11 Memorial & Museum in NYC. The pictures brought forth a profound sadness as the cameras scanned over the survivors and their families as well as the exhibits, stopping here and there for closeups and personal stories. A staircase that was the only avenue for some to freedom and life stands bone white, covered in ash. Bent, blackened metal framework from parts of the structure from the towers loom upwards over the crowds within the museum, much like the towers they once helped support. All chilling and stark reminders of that day and our national tragedy.
But for me it was the small items that were so poignant and personal that they made the pain and loss intimate and immediate once more. A red bandana from a young man who sacrificed his life to make sure others got down safely. His mother was present,full of pride for her son, as she stood next to his photograph and his red scarf now enclosed in glass. It was the scarf that the survivors he helped down that day remember him by. Over and over again, a young man in a red bandana grabbed people, moving them towards safety and life. The expression on her face, so full of love, loss, and grief, was visceral as she looked at the scarf. Another survivor was there looking at the black, dusty shoes she donated that she wore that day as she walked down all those flights of steps. She ended up caring them as she ended up finally walking down in her bare feet because the pain of going down all those steps made wearing them impossible. Small item after item, watches, cell phones, glasses, standing side by side next to the physically imposing and massive items from the World Trade Center bombings, like a fire truck and or large pieces of masonry from the Pentagon, yes that’s there too. And there is a wall of photographs of those that died that day. Every race, every gender,, every age….all represented there. Forever remembered, forever immortalized.
It made me think of another wall, one full of names on black marble. Here in Washington, DC, where huge crowds will gather on this weekend to remember, to grieve and to celebrate lives now gone. There will be Rolling Thunder, and parades, and the echoing refrain of Taps heard over Arlington Cemetery this weekend. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, my favorite of all Washington memorials, stands as one of our more striking and haunting memorials. The pictures found there aren’t on the wall but will be left by loved ones, friends, family, and fellow soldiers who come to commune with the dead and their memories. There, as well as in New York City, the memorials will help all of us remember and help to mitigate the grief left behind. Powerful images, powerful emotions, and a powerful almost unimaginable amount of loss.
Take a moment this Memorial Weekend and remember. Do something that will celebrate their life as well as remember their loss.
Now for the week ahead here at ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords:
- Monday, May 26: Love Comes Home by Andrew Grey
- Tuesday, May 27: Author Spotlight: Writing with Humor by John Inman
- Wed., May 28: Book Tour: Sierra Cartwright’s Crave
- Wed., May 28: Hostile Ground by Aleksandr Voinov and LA Witt
- Thursday, May 29: Saugatuck Summer by Amelia C. Gormley
- Thursday, May 29: Clipped by Devon McCormack
- Friday, May 30: Moving Earth by T.A. Webb
- Saturday, May 31: Back Burn by Laura Harner
- Saturday, May 31: May Summary of Reviews/Best Covers
Thoughts on Memorial Day…
Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep – Mary Frye (1932)
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow;
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain;
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush;
I am in the graceful rush.
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.