Saturday, January 28, 2017

Days to Remember

Sad day, today is. January 28. Has it really been thirty-one years since the Challenger Shuttle disaster? How can that be?

On facebook and twitter today, in a collective patchwork of stories, people are reliving the moment they heard about the explosion. Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Doug Marlette captured the moment best for me in his drawing of a tearful eagle looking into the starry skies. Some writing comments on the internet heard about the tragedy second hand during work. A few were in the audience there at the launch site and witnessed it first hand. Many teachers watched on television surrounded by a group of eager students who received an unexpected lesson about life and grief.

What a day for a storycatcher like me to haunt the internet! Our history is scarred with days to corporately remember, sad days for sure, days to hug and listen to each other and share the experience once again, lest we forget.

In my latest project, a memoir about living a life isolated in the mountains of far western North Carolina, the gentleman talks about that day, that lovely Sunday in December 1941 we now call Pearl Harbor Day. Even though there was no electricity to power a radio, his family heard the news with the rest of the nation, broadcast on a battery operated gadget making do for a radio. His family mourned. They cried. Their father rushed to town the following week with multitudes of angry men, just to join the Army.

Stories about Nine-Eleven. About the Challenger. About the Kennedy assassination, the Martin Luther King assassination. We tell our children and keep the moment alive perhaps in the prayer that these will never happen again.

We don't do this with happy days, do we? Maybe we take those for granted so that we are shocked back into reality when the sad days come. Are there happy days to remember where we were when we heard the news?

Oh, yes, and I've heard stories to prove it. About V-E Day, Victory in Europe when the European portion of World War II came to a close and the people here in western North Carolina celebrated. Schools closed at lunchtime and children were sent home to celebrate with their mothers. "Daddy is coming home." Mobs turned out in the streets for no other reason than to share the mutual experience with each other.

I once interviewed a lady who was one hundred three years old. She told about the day when she was just a tot and her father grabbed her up in the field, putting her on his shoulder. Across the land came the toll of church bells announcing the end of World War I.

"Remember this always," he said, "because this is the sound of peace." She did. She never forgot, and when she told the story to me a hundred years later, I got chill bumps watching her eyes glisten with tears even after all those years.

Maybe this is what makes us human. We cling to each other when we need to, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, in war or in peace.

Have you hugged your someone yet today?

Catch of the day,


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