Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Remembrance and Hope

This has been an important week for remembering tragedy and those lost to it. But the biggest message that came from both services we attended was that of hope. Hope. As long as we keep that, all is not lost. Rich and I and our kids certainly know that firsthand.

Monday night Heidi played in the band that was asked to perform at the Columbine 10th Anniversary Memorial Service. The band played "The American Elegy" by Frank Ticheli. This quote is on the composer's web site: An American Elegy is, above all, an expression of hope. It was composed in memory of those who lost their lives at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, and to honor the survivors. It is offered as a tribute to their great strength and courage in the face of a terrible tragedy. I hope the work can also serve as one reminder of how fragile and precious life is and how intimately connected we all are as human beings.

The service was lovely and moving. You can see clips of it online almost anywhere if you like; it was very widely covered. I am really glad we went. Columbine is a very close-knit community and I love it here.

If you would like to see more about the Columbine Memorial, here is a link:

Last night, Chloe and I attended the Governor's Holocaust Annual Remembrance program in Denver. Chloe is a part of an advanced reading group at her school and they have been reading first-hand accounts of survival stories from the Holocaust. The speaker at the program last night is the last surviving member of a group of people that lived in the sewers of Lvov, Poland, for more than a year to escape being sent to the extermination camps. Having read many books of this nature myself, nothing I heard Ms. Keren say was something I was unaware of, but hearing it out loud, first-hand, certainly made it more real than anything I have read. I think reading books about the survivor experiences is vital to our generation and all who follow us. But I realize how lucky we are to still have these live opportunities to be affected by those who have suffered and survived. We need to hear these things, our kids need to hear these things, in order to be impacted enough to bring about change for the better.

If you want to read more about this personal account, here is a link that gives a great overview of the book:

Speakers at both events pointed out to the audience that we still have so far to go; in gun control, in tolerance of others' differences, in keeping awareness alive, in countless other ways. But they also reassured us that no matter how horrid the circumstances, the human spirit is a wonderful and miraculous thing! That we can overcome any obstacle with love, faith, and HOPE.

So what should we take from these reminders and memorials of past tragedy? Be kinder to one another whenever you can. Don't take your loved ones for granted- always tell them that you love them and how much they mean to you, and do it today. Act with moral courage whenever you can, standing up against what is wrong and helping those who can't help themselves at the time. Be willing to take a stand for what you believe in. Most of all, never lose hope. No matter how hard life gets, no matter what you have to deal with, you can get through it, learn important lessons, and become a better person because of it.

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