“A People of Memory”

By: Caitlin Forst

Hamburgers. Fruit salad. The first swim of the summer season. No doubt, many of us are looking forward to the Memorial Day weekend that foreshadows the beginning of summer. Hopefully, we also recall the significance of this national holiday – recognizing the sacrifice others have made to protect our nation and remembering all of those who have died.

In a particular way, 10 years after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, we honor those near to us who have been injured or died in recent wars. Bishop Loverde challenges us to remember well: “Is it possible that after such loss, such heroism, such focus, we could ever become complacent? Our response to these questions should be unequivocal: We are called to be a ‘people of memory.’”

How can we best remember our relatives, our friends, our fellow citizens? Some immediate ways would be to postpone the Memorial Day barbecue until later in the afternoon and visit a cemetery to pray for the dead or attend Mass.  Parishioners will be gathering for Mass celebrated by Fr. Specht, pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, on Monday at 11 a.m. at Fairfax Memorial Park, 9900 Braddock Road, Fairfax (If outdoor services at the cemetery are cancelled due to inclement weather, Fr. Specht will offer an 11 a.m. Mass at Holy Spirit, Annandale).

Certainly remembering our soldiers on Monday is a good start to actively becoming a “people of memory.” Yet, there are opportunities for us to remember soldiers throughout the year, particularly by our prayers and our support – perhaps by sending care packages overseas or letters of appreciation for their service.

In this week’s edition of the Herald, Fr. Albertson, a diocesan priest on active duty in Afghanistan, tells us more about why these men and women deserve our remembrance. He writes, “They love their families and they love also their nation. They love life and they love freedom. They volunteer to serve, and are willing to step into harm’s way and sacrifice it all because of this love.” Read the full story here.

Most of us will never serve our country overseas, but we can certainly learn from their example. Perhaps the greatest tribute to their sacrifice would be to imitate them in the love they show through service.

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