Engagements, wedding days, births and deaths, simple holidays somehow turned extraordinary, “firsts” in our lives – these are the things from our personal lives that we each hold dear and remember most over the years. This combination of events is unique to each one of us, and it holds the stories of our lives.
And, there are those events that we all as a culture, a country, a body of citizens in this time period share in our collective memories. Those are the happenings and dates that resonate and are remembered by all of us who live in the same general time and place.
Of the later sort, here are some events I remember best (or worst) …
As a young teen in the back seat of my parents car (likely the silver 1970’s Chevy Impala), I remember them lamenting the untimely passing of Elvis. What a talent, what a waste. We’d been on a little road trip during the summer week of his death. Here’s a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Elvis_Presley#Final_year_and_death
It was a cold day in Kirksville, Missouri. My senior year of college, and I remember being burned-out, restless, and sad before I watched with the world as the Space Shuttle Challenger repeatedly exploded in the sky. A cold day indeed: http://abcnews.go.com/Archives/video/jan-28-1986-challenger-shuttle-explodes-9313918
Although I don’t remember the moment I learned of Princess Diana’s tragic death, I do clearly remember the time and year it happened. Only a couple of weeks after my son’s birth, Lady Di was killed in a car accident. I think many were touched by her. Though her life was so very different, there was something relatable and sympathetic about her: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana,_Princess_of_Wales
One never knows what a day will bring. I was a second-year counselor at Francis Howell High School in St. Charles, MO at the time, and, we were busy in our offices when the news about Columbine came. What a devastating day! Though, it wasn’t really, it seemed like the first of multiple school shootings that have taken place since then: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbine_High_School_massacre
I watched Katie and Matt live the day the towers fell. I‘d left my job to be home with kids for a while. One was playing on the deck, one was waiting in Guatemala to come home, and I was sorting pictures in front of the TV, my broken foot in a boot. And, it was very likely the most terrifying day in U.S. history: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Katie+and+Matt+on+September+11&FORM=VIRE5#view=detail&mid=3B13BCAEB9F72D8D7AC13B13BCAEB9F72D8D7AC1
So, in our personal lives we have vivid memories of both the heartbreaking and heart-warming events we experience. We find wild laughter and uncontrolled tears in the scrapbook pages of our minds.
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord,
make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8 NIV).
Why, then, do the memories of our communities, country and citizenship seem to be so overwhelmingly sad? Why are those shared memories most often of the evil acts and painful days within our world?
I suppose the answer exists within the media. We can blame a lot of stuff on them, right? These horrific happenings are what we learn about first, what we see replayed repeatedly on our computer and television screens. I am making an observation as much as a judgment about this. But, one does have to ask, how would our culture be different if the positive and righteous events in our history were as clear and vivid in our memories?
A more loyal and proud citizenship? A more peaceful world? Less depression, more joy?
Will Ferguson be one of these events for our children?
(By the way, for those readers that are not local, Ferguson is less than an hour from my home. So, the rioting and violence taking place in that community right now is quite real for those of us in this part of the country.)
What days in history live large in your consciousness? Share your thoughts with us.
Have a Thoughtful Thursday!