Monday, November 10, 2014

Military Monday: Remember

Lewis Ward Love
This man was my great uncle.

I never knew him. Little is known about his life, and even less is known about his death. He never married and had few connections. He died on a field in France, fighting a war that was nearing it's end.

If not for this picture, a few records, a headstone, and some handed-down stories, his very existence would be forgotten. He would fade away, like the thousands and thousands of World War I soldiers who signed up and sailed away, never to be seen again.

Remembering someone you never knew isn't an easy task.

It takes work to force our brains to focus on a picture of a stranger. To imagine how they lived, how they walked, the tone of their voice, their aspirations and dreams. We can find out about them through research, we can visit their gravestones. We can study the history books and ask questions of historians, but in the end, we still know very little.

But yet, it is our duty to understand that this man, like the other nameless thousands, was more than
Near Arras, France 2008
just a pawn in someone else's war. We have to fight to bring his face to mind. To really look at him and understand that whatever small part he had to play, he was there for us.

For you. For me. For our children, and their children.

Tomorrow the Last Post will play for my uncle and others like him who died in the pursuit of peace. The piper will play his lament. The silence will be held and we will bow our heads in a moment of reflection. We will somehow, in our own ways, bring their faces to mind, hear their names called and reflect on their short lives. It's not easy, but we must do it anyway. And we must teach our children to do it as well.

George Santayana is credited with the saying: "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." It is of utmost importance that we make the effort to remember these unknown faces. Each and every one of them.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
 ~Robert Laurence Binyon

We will remember them.


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