Monday, May 28, 2007

A Day For Remembering

"Our country has always lifted up ordinary individuals who acted in extraordinary ways. "

A few weeks ago, I read that the Flight 93 Memorial Project has fallen significantly short of its goal in fundraising.

My hubby’s comment was, “Why do they need 30 million dollars to build a memorial?” and I suppose in some respects he’s right. We could have a whole discussion about why memorials are constructed, what they need to look like (has anyone followed the debate over what should stand on the grounds of the WTC in New York??), what they’re meant to be, who they’re for…

Along those lines, I found a terrific commentary on the current memorial site that stands above the field of Shanksville, PA, where Flight 93 went down. Actually, I was there myself about 18 months after 9/11, and this author is spot-on the way he describes the field: the eerie feeling, the overwhelming emptiness, the palpable emotion that overtakes you when you see the makeshift tributes people have left there.

I do think something permanent should stand on that hallowed ground, though, and maybe I feel strongly about it because I lost a college classmate in that crash. Jeremy Glick is credited with being one of the 4 men on board who tried to take control of the cockpit. To me, he is this funny, normal, nice guy I used to see around campus--in the dining hall, at parties, in classes.

We weren’t close friends, but in a class of 1000 students or so, you get to know faces and voices. You travel in similar circles. You hold the door for each other on days so cold your breath freezes. You smile across a roomful of chairs when the eighty year old English professor cracks a joke. You touch.

Finding out Jeremy was on that plane…it changed me.

I'm in the middle of reading Your Father's Voice: Letters for Emmy About Life With Jeremy--and Without Him After 9/11. It's a memoir by his wife to their daughter, and it's quite well written and moving. I hope, most important, it's one more thing that keeps the memory alive of the fascinating, fun person that Jeremy Glick was.

Today, for Memorial Day, I'd encourage everyone to take a moment and remember and honor those people who've committed incredibly selfless acts even in the face of danger and heartache and probable death.

Despite all the sales at the mall, and the barbeques and family picnics, and the day off from school, I'd hope we could remember what this day is supposed to represent. I think remembering, anyway, is the most important tribute we can pay. Maybe we don't need a formal memorial after all.

What do you think?


Kenn said...

I stand, human memorial. By my fathers stone, a cemetary of brother in arms. It becomes 1976 and I become ten. I look down to find. Theodore E Kasica. Korea. Vietnam. I close my eyes and hear, the wind through flags and against granite. So many flags I salute. It is canvas whipping but to me, it is red white and blue that is gripping. I stand, human memorial.

Marianne Arkins said...

Wonderful post, A. Memorial Day is tough day for me. Though my dad didn't die in WWII, he served. And thinking of him always make me miss him terribly.

I hope folks never forget that blood was shed, is still being shed, for the cause of freedom -- by soldiers and civilians.

Diane said...

Great post, Allie! We need to always remember the sacrifices made by so many courageous men and women in the military.

And your college friend, Jeremy, was very brave in what he did in his final moments.