Friday, September 11, 2015

"...The Fundamental Things Apply..."

"You must remember this", the classic song begins.

A lot of that mindset appearing in print, on air and online today.

September 11.

9/11 in the more iconic presentation.

And on this 14th anniversary of that September 11, we are reminded, among the many things of which we are reminded today, that we should ever and always remember.

"Never forget" in the more iconic presentation.

Couple of inevitable truths about life, though.

Never is now, as it has always been, a long, long time.

And "never forgetting" is not something we're known for doing.

Double negatives, notwithstanding.

The history books are full of catastrophic events in the timeline of man that resulted in expressions of tribute meant to serve as mental post-it notes.

Remember The Alamo.

Remember The Maine.

Remember Pearl Harbor.

And, truth be told, we do, in fact, remember them. But, rarely, on our own. Most often, not without some outside stimulation that triggers a memory or, at least, an awareness.

A classroom discussion.

A "moments in history" meme inserted amidst the commercial break of a favorite TV or radio program.

A post or a tweet or a blurb on one social network site or another.

The thing is that time, as we are taught early on, heals all wounds.

And one inevitable side effect of that healing is the fading of the memory of the injury.

Even if the event occurs in our own life time, the process is predictable and unavoidable.

I wasn't alive when Crockett and company tried to ward off Santa Ana's advancing troops. I wasn't yet a living being when the ship named after the state was blown up for, well, whatever reason in was blown up.

And I was still ten years away from being bottom slapped into breathing for the first time, when the first wave of Japanese planes appeared on an early Sunday morning horizon with their payloads of death and destruction.

I was, though, a reasonably cognizant pre-teenager when the junior high school public address system was commandeered to announce that the President of the United States had been shot to death in broad daylight on a busy street in Dallas, Texas.

And I lived through a period of some years after, surrounded by fellow citizens of the time who were all convinced that an event so horrific and history altering would surely be a part of our everyday thoughts for the remainder of our lives, if not the remainder of time.

Because if ever there was an American event that deserved our complete and continued remembrance it was the brutal murder of John F. Kennedy.

It took about twenty years for the memory to go from vivid to vague, from rigidly recalled to reverently, but subtly, "oh....yeah.....that was a terrible thing wasn't it?..."

And two years ago, on the 50th anniversary of the assassination, the airwaves and print pages were filled with mention and memory.

For about thirty six hours.

After which the event returned to its resting place in the inevitably dusty pages of history.

Along with the Alamo.

And the Maine.

And Pearl Harbor.

Chances are good, too, that the "60th" anniversary of 11/22/63 won't be a big deal.

Likely, no deal at all.

Time marches on.

Today is only 14 years since that September morning.

And social media is filled with observance and reflection and tribute and tears.

But, already, there are signs that "never forget" is evolving into "let us remember".

Maybe the thing to do with the emotional energy generated by this historic loss is take advantage of an opportunity lost after past historic losses.

Find a way to capture, and keep, the sense of pulling together and putting aside pettiness and

moving forward in that spirit of "one for all" that was so passionate and powerful and unbreakable on that day.

And let's "never forget" that we have the capacity to do that.

Every day.

All the time.

Because we've done it before.

When the Alamo fell.

And the Maine exploded.

And Pearl Harbor burned.

And JFK was buried.

We just didn't keep that momentum going.

We let it turn into reminiscence...and reflection...and memory.

The kind of memory that fades... time goes by.