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Memorials


December 7, 1941, in President Roosevelt's words, "...a date that will live in infamy". The picture is the USS Arizona Memorial, one of the places constructed to remember the 2,403 Americans who died that day.

Even though the human mind is wired to remember negative events more than positive ones, we have a tendency to forget truly signifacant historical dates and places. So, in perpetuity, memorial stones and edifices were constructed to help people remember those things that may naturally slip from memory.

It was a threat to God's chosen people too, to forget. So, Moses wrote, "Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children---" (Deuteronomy 4:9). In fact, if I could title the Book of Deuteronomy it would be "Don't Forget". Much of the great instruction in the final book of the Torah is aimed at their self- absorbed tendency to permit the might yacts of God to slip to the edges of history.

History is re-written every day. The important people, dates, places, and events of our short history are re-arranged by the revisionist spins of every contemporary culture. What was traditionally significant in my history classes are typically sidelined today. There's a whole new set of politically correct epochs that have moved up the historical date-line. Some of the things that defined my generaitonal cohort have been eclipsed by more current headlines. Perhaps it's a natural shift that us old geezers lament. But, we must learn, un-learn, and re-learn our ability to record history. We don't have to live in the past. We must, however, remember it.

The Reagan, Thatcher, Pope John Paul II Journey with Gov. Mike Huckabee, was a primer in this regard. Part of the journey was in Krakow, Poland with another few days was in London and a final stop in Los Angeles, California. Eoth place defined the special balance of remembering the past and aiming at the future. This was especially true, at least for me, in London. It's a thoroughly modern, ceomtemporary city. I counted a Starbucks in almost every block. Then, historical markers were everywhere. Right outside our hotel, a very historic building on the Thames River, equipped with every modern convenience, was a life-sized statue of three sailors. There were memorials in just about every locale. They were stunning reminders of things that had shaped them as a nation.

The Tower of London was particularly moving. In the moat surrounding the Tower, 888,256 ceramic poppies were displayed, one poppy for every British death in WWI. These had been donated by British citizens. It was a visually beautiful reminder of the lives given in support of their nation. It was among my most precious moments.

So, it's December 7, 2014, seventy-three years since that date that will live in infamy. The ranks of Pearl Harbor survivors are thin indeed. But, it's a date I would like to remember, and tell it to my children and grandchildren too.


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