"...that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." - Lincoln's Gettysburg Address 11/19/1863
I was 11. My mom called me into the living room, because something big was happening. We thought a plane had lost control of their navigation. Sadness quickly turned to absolute horror. This was intentional. There was not just one plane, but three that had been hijacked. How could this happen. Who was behind it. The people on those planes and in those buildings. My God, those poor people. The first responders. The heroes that took down the plane in Pennsylvania. The victims trapped in rubble. It all became a blur of people. The living, the dead, the rescuers, the rescued, so hard to tell where one ended and the other began.
17 years later, and still, I remember watching people jump from the burning buildings. I remember the faces covered in ash. I remember a country that hit our knees as one because there was nowhere else to turn. Nowhere to lean except each other, and God. And if you were alive on 9/11/2011, I'll bet you remember that too. Some things just do not fade from memory.
Our human nature is highly resilient. This, I believe, ranks as one of our greatest qualities, but also as one of our greatest short comings. We must recover from tragedy in order to go on living. But somehow, we so quickly lose that sense of urgency. That powerful pull to do something. Live life more fully. Pray for and with our neighbors, strangers or not. We swallow all of that emotion, and revert back to our normal lives, forgetting the difference an instant can make.
Today, I made a list of things I want to remember, even when the emotion of this memorial day has passed. My own 9 rules for life, if you will...albeit nowhere near as funny as Chris Pratt's ;) Less this sound preachy, this was written by me, directed AT me. Some are related to the topic, some are just life things...I'm simply sharing with the hope that there is something here that resonates with you too.
1) Life is fragile. Don't waste time. Don't "do it later." If it's important, do it now.
2) Look at each person as though they are living through a struggle. Chances are, they are. Have you heard the saying that if everyone threw the cross they were carrying into a pile, and you had your choice of ANY person's struggles, you'd go back and pick up your own again? I believe that. So be kind.
3) Stand for something, and know why. (Crowd mentality...still a major pet peeve of mine.)
4) We live in the greatest country in the world. We have freedoms other places only dream of. Don't forget to be grateful. When you see injustice, take action. Realize that no place in the world is perfect, but that whining won't solve the issues. Home is always worth fighting for.
5) Remember the end goal. Remember who wins in the end. No amount of evil in this world can change the King of the world. He was, is, and always will be.
6) In the end, even faith and hope will pass away...but love never will. True love, the kind that sacrifices all for another, that remains for all eternity.
7) Your hair, your outfit, your phone...they're not that important. Seriously.
8) You're not behind. You're not missing out on things just because someone else is doing them. Your story is different than you thought it would be. But it's good. It's worth it. Your life has purpose.
9) Show up when you say you will. Be someone that can be relied upon.
Bonus rule: If someone offers you a donut, especially one covered in cinnamon sugar, always say yes.
Remembering is important in the process of progress. If we don't remember history, we can't possibly keep events from repeating. I read once in the book American Sniper by Chris Kyle, “The thing we all had in common wasn’t muscle; it was the will to do whatever it takes.” And that's the thing. What we can do now, may not be the same as what someone else can do. We can't go back. But we all have a part to play in this world. And we can start now, if we have the will to do what it takes.