Trying to remember or trying to forget?
It's an odd selection for American Memorial Day, this picture of me in front of the Tower of London moat taken in November, 2014, by Curt Bradford. But, I've got an ax to grind today and this picture sharpens the tool a bit so I can make a point. The moat surrounding the Tower of London is filled with 888,246 red, ceramic poppies. They are part of an art exhibit titled Blood Swept Land and Seas by English artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper. Each red poppy represents a British military fatality in World War I. They were donated by British citizens to help them remember the sacrifices of so many in The Great War. It fits the landscape of London, a city with architecture that perpetuates British history in so many ways. They seem to be a people trying to remember.
There's nothing pro-British in my heart today, nor anti-American. Red, white, and blue are my colors for life and I believe ours in the greatest nation on earth. Still, across the pond it seems like we're a nation trying to forget. One city in Georgia required a woman to remove the 79 crosses she had made and displayed on public property in memory of their citizens fallen in defense of the country. After an uproar city officials allowed them to be displayed again, but only after a public outcry. You see, they apparently want to forget our Christian heritage. On another note, there's our President's attempt to forget the male and female parts of God's creation epic and has us floundering over how human sexuality is defined. Cities and states are being bribed with threats of losing federal funding if they don't forget the male/female distinctions too. Then, let's see, there's the Civil War we'd like to forget, and the Constitution, and the three branches of government, and states rights, and the authority of law enforcement personnel, and the sanctity of human life, and the veterans. Last Friday President Obama was hugging survivors of the Hiroshima atomic bomb as if we had started that war or had not been trying to stop the bloodshed when we dropped the bomb. He didn't actually apologize for it, but he's not hugged any Pearl Harbor survivors and those who lived through the Bataan death march. All of these snapshots are just small images of a bigger picture. Are we a nation trying to forget? On this Memorial Day I want to remember those who have died under our flag. On a grander scale I want us to be a nation that remembers rather than a nation that forgets.
There's a biblical parallel. The Scripture I have in mind only fits here only if you subscribe to several worldview truths about our history: that ours was a nation founded on Christian principles; and, that God has blessed our nation because of it. It's a passage I reflect on often because it registers something profoundly deep in me. If we forget how to remember, we'll lose our bearings as a nation. We may already be on that road too. It's the account of Israel in Judges 2.
And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose
another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he
had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the
Lord and served the Baals. And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers,
who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods,
from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to
them. And they provoked the Lord to anger.
Judges 2:10-12, ESV
Before the Exodus God had commanded Israel to remember. They were to teach their children what God had done when they were sitting at their tables and when they were on their way. His law was to be in their hearts and on their door posts. But, they had not done it. They didn't tell them what God had done in those forty years. So, the next generation after Joshua and his cohorts forgot what God had done and didn't know the Lord. Sound familiar?
These are truly significant, critical times. The way is obscured even more because the political system our founders dreamed and implemented is broken. This year we'll elect a new President and the choice is ugly. Maybe it's time for some remembering.
It's Memorial Day. There are people we should remember today. And, principles too. Don't forget.