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We vowed to remember, so we do

We said we would always remember…and so we do.  We pause to acknowledge this anniversary of sorrow and loss, of confusion and grief, of private mourning and public outcry.

“Tragedy can teach us many lessons. From pain, we can learn compassion. From division, we can learn solidarity. And when our world is shattered, as it was on September 11, 2001, we can learn to seek understanding. On that violent day which shook us silent, America fractured. The lines between ‘us’ and ‘them’ grew thicker, darker, and harsher, muddying our shared humanity. We have since inhabited the shadows they cast, shouting at one another from across divides. On this, the anniversary of that heartbreaking day, we mourn and remember those we lost and all who were affected. But we are also given an opportunity: to overcome the lie of ‘them’ and ’I’ and learn to live together. The terrorists of 9/11 were guided by a narrative of intercultural incompatibility. But as people of diverse religious and secular identities, we can prove them wrong in our unity. By building bridges of understanding, we can emerge from the shadows and learn — from one another — how to be our best selves.”  ~Chris Stedman

“Dear God, how do we pray for what was lost? We cannot pray for deliverance or a miracle, for the tragedy has already burned itself into our souls. Children have grown fatherless. Families are long since bereaved. We know there is no prayer to change the past. So we pray to live with memory, with constant love, with the promise both to combat evil and to cherish goodness. Do not let our pain cloud our hopes or crush our hearts. Help us grow through this tragedy, keep faith with its victims, and sustain our trust in You.” ~Rabbi David Wolpe

“It is not those who say, ‘Lord, Lord!’ who will enter the reign of God, but those who do God’s will.” (Matthew 7:21) God of all races, nations, and religions, You know that we cannot change others, Nor can we change the past. But we can change ourselves. We can join You in changing our only and common future where you ‘reign’ the same over all. Help us not to say, “Lord, Lord” to any tribal gods, but to hear the One God of all the earth, And to do God’s good thing for this One World.” ~ Rev Richard Rohr

“Loving God of Peace: On this anniversary of unbelievable sorrow, comfort those who mourn, and guide our hearts toward healing and hope. Remind us of the love of Christ, love which leapt over cultural and ethnic boundaries to feed the hungry, seek the lost and care for the least. Make of Your children, no matter how we name You, one human family, bound together in the work of justice and peacemaking. Make us one with the Light that shines in the darkness and illumines a path toward understanding and reconciliation. Let love be our genuine call. Amen.”    Dr. Jacqueline Lewis

(Photo: Courtesy of Rebecca Nappi and Tony Wadden)

History asks one thing: Remember

(photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)  

 

 

 

    The first thing you notice about the Alamo is that it stands right in the center of San Antonio. The small, sand-colored building, surrounded by trees and a lawn of green grass, ringed by tall buildings, sits like an antique, rough-cut stone, in a modern setting.


    Of course, the Alamo was there first. Everything else came along later.


    I visited the Alamo for the first time late in the afternoon two days before the 175th anniversary of the battle that shaped both the legend and the aura of the Alamo, as well as the state of Texas.


    I watched as people walked the grounds, stopping to read the names on the tall memorial. Some were in costume. Members of the Texas Living History Association were there to reenact the event. Horses, tied to lines strung between trees, dozed, lifting one foot and then another. Men strolled around in buckskin and homespun, some in the uniform of Mexican soldiers. The women were in bonnets and calico.


      Finally, I opened the heavy wood doors and stepped inside.  I am always struck by the power of a place with a past. The way inanimate buildings can breathe with life and echo silently with the sound of all they have witnessed.


    In the wide central hall, visitors moved from one display to another, their voices hushed as though they were in a sacred place. The people of Texas would say they were.The air was perfumed with the  cool, dry, mineral smell of stone and time.


    As I stood there, listening to our guide speak of the battle, the deaths and indignities, I noticed a man walk through the door. Tall, lanky, wearing jeans and a wide cowboy hat - the quintessential Texan - he stopped and looked around him.


Then, slowly, he reached up and removed his Stetson and, with his big, rough hand cupped over the crown, held it over his heart.


    I came back for the ceremony commemorating the anniversary of the battle. Standing in the crowd, shivering in the dark, I listened to the speakers and felt the concussion from the musket volleys fired at dawn. I wondered if the man who’d stood so respectfully a few days before was there, lost in the crowd.


    History is such a personal thing.  But it is a collective experience, as well. 


I hadn’t expected to be moved by the Alamo. That is their history, after all.  Not mine.  But I was moved. I was deeply moved by words and faces of the people who stood there with me as the sky lightened into a deep violet over the rough stone walls of the old mission.    

I came away with the lesson we so often forget in a world that moves too fast to do much more than hold on to where we are at the moment.
    

Ultimately, history asks only one thing of us: Remember.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes for The Spokesman-Review. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com