Think about it – we forget much more than we remember. We retain a certain percentage of information and experience, and a greater percentage passes through our fingers like running water –hence, the constant reminders throughout our lives to remember this or that.
I am finding that even though I have documented much of my life so far on paper, that doesn’t guarantee that I’ll remember it.
I will read back on a page I wrote 30 years ago and think – this surely happened, I wrote it down, but have no recollection of this that I wrote down.
Our collective and national memories are just as susceptible to forgetfulness, if not more so. History books make their attempt to retain something of something that happened. But, as time goes by, it slips farther and farther away in our collective unconsciousness.
It is for this reason that we have days such as we had this past week. Veterans Day is set aside, once a year, for us to stop, remember, think and thank. A lot of people served, and a lot of people died, to get us to where we are today.
You will hear phrases such as “Never forget.” We hear this phrase because we are so quickly prone to forget. Time wears away at the newness of an experience to the point where many people have little idea.
Think about it – there are no surviving participants from World War I. This was the war from which Veterans Day was established. It used to be called Armistice Day, and in 1954 became known as Veterans Day.
I have always appreciated the fact that this special day occurs within two weeks or so of Thanksgiving Day. There is a relation between the two.
The estimate is that there are still around 500,000 people alive who served in World War II. In time that number too will dwindle, and eventually disappear.
We salute the soldiers, past and present, who represent our country, its flag and its people. A new generation is rising and many of its members do not know or do not appreciate the traditions and symbolisms that form the foundation of their freedom.
It is fruitless to point a finger at a coarse president or an ineffective legislature, a bloated bureaucracy or a hypocritical press or a political party.
Rather, look in the mirror. There is the problem, and the beginning of a solution, to our national challenge.
Tom Rupp is a resident of Folsom and a weekly columnist in the Folsom Telegraph. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.