We all have memories, ironically, many more than we can actually remember! It is believed that every experience we have ever had is stored in the brain somewhere. The hard part is retrieval—being able to recover those thoughts, ideas, experiences, and the knowledge that comes with them, when we need or want to.
Even for those not afflicted with dementia or Alzheimer’s, remembering seems to become harder the older we get. Just like our joints, our memories become stiff and less elastic.
Did you know that groups of people have a “collective memory?” Families, organizations, and communities all have “memories” that arise out of common experience and that shape the way the past is viewed, the present is dealt with, and the future is envisioned. Significant events, such as a family tragedy or relocation can be part of the “memory” of family members who were very young or perhaps, not even born yet!
Similarly, the experience of the Great Depression or participation in armed conflict is (or, should be) part of our national “memory.” These memories are handed down through oral stories, written accounts, songs, pictures, and mementos. News writers, historians, and even novelists and playwrights help us remember.
Why is this important? Because, memory is crucial to learning. George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
We may desire to forget difficult, negatively charged memories, but from the perspective of hope for the future, we need to remember the past. We need to know the truth of what happened and what good people did in those critical times to change the course of history. It can give us understanding for what is going on today and what good people may need to do to carry us into a future that continues to uphold all that we hold sacred and dear.
This is why we need special times, like Memorial Day, not just to give us an occasion to remember, but to help us intentionally choose to remember. As we visit a cemetery or watch a parade this weekend, let’s REMEMBER what a great nation we live in and what a great God has given us the blessings we enjoy! Let’s REMEMBER the individuals who sacrificed their lives to secure and protect our liberty, remembering also the families and friends they left behind who continued to live out their lives in freedom, godliness, and gratitude.
By the wisdom that memory can bring, may we continue to live our lives intentionally in freedom, godliness, and gratitude.
Paid for by Dr. Jim Hines for Governor; P.O. Box 5595, Saginaw, MI 48603