Long before the day itself, the true harbingers of Memorial Day, the red poppies sold by veterans at any storefront where I shop appear. Photos will appear in every newspaper on that weekend, and they should. There will be a silhouetted shot of a bugler sounding Taps, of rows of flags on the graves of veterans. A country must remember its fallen.
While visiting a friend in Crossville, Tennessee, I read through the local newspaper, The Glade Sun. An article by a Rod McBrayer was entitled, “This truth remains: Your life will outlive you.” He recounted the life, times and lasting impact of his grandmother’s words and actions.
In author Mark Helprin’s collection, The Pacific and Other Stories, an older man recalls stories of his late father and is saddened by the realization that with his own passing those tales so resonant in his heart and soul, that speak so pointedly to him will be deleted from collective memory when he also passes away.
I joke with my wife about the depth of my interest and understanding about many things. In her former life, Kate was a teacher of LOTE, a Language Other Than English, a rather pc way of saying she taught Spanish. Because of her, I know the names Lorca and Neruda, fiery poets of contemporary literature. Looking through The Captain’s Verses by Neruda, I came across the following lines in the poem The Mountain and the River:
Who are those who suffer?
I do not know but they call to me.
I do not know, but they are mine
And they say to me: “We suffer.”
Further, in the poem, Lives, Neruda wrote
…because it is the voice of all
those who did not speak,
of those who did not sing…
Certainly, in the cases of Carlie, Hailey Owens, Jessica Holloway, Leiby Kletzky, their immortality, tragically and notoriously earned, will endure far beyond the temporal span of their existence among us. Their voices were lost; their songs not sung.
We must remember. Most of us did not know them. Yet they are ours. All of us who remember now speak and sing for them.
Within the next six weeks our Foundation will visit at least five different schools and groups, presenting our lessons 11 times. Our Really Beyond Prime Time Group will interact with students in Brooklyn, Brentwood, Holbrook, Holtsville, Lake Grove and Smithtown, meeting over 2,300 students, grades K through 5!
We do not know them. Yet, they too are ours.