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Patriot Day At Patriots Point: The Power Of Memory

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I touch the day

I taste the light

I remember

M. S. Merwin

Yesterday a crowd of 700-800 people silently watched and listened in Hangar Bay 3 on the USS Yorktown as over 9,000 names were read aloud. The names included all those who died on 9/11/01 and members of our armed forces killed in the War on Terror since 2001. Our readers were Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Scout leaders, JROTC cadets and midshipmen, NROTC officer candidates, Patriots Point volunteers, civilians, firefighters, and active duty Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy  and Marine Corps.

Tim Callanan reads the names of his coworkers who were killed at work in the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Patriot Day at Patriots Point served as a poignant reminder of the power of memories. We see pictures and remember. We smell aromas that bring up memories of people and things. We hear voices or music that take us to another place and time. We remember birthdays, anniversaries and funerals. We remember with stories, monuments and a plethora of everyday actions.  Everyday brings a memory to our conscious thoughts and we remember as the sun rises and sets, and as we look up at the stars.

Scientists have discovered that memory takes place in the same part of the brain where we plan our futures (read more here). Without memories of a past people can’t see or even imagine a future, but with memories they can make good decisions on future plans and envision good things and success.

Our nation’s remembrance and commemoration of war and crisis is important, because it prepares future generations to see their way through war and crisis. They remember Americans who went before them and their success at surviving and thriving, despite terrible calamities (war, economic depression, disease, etc). Ceremonies like the one yesterday are gifts to our children and grandchildren. Just as children are inoculated from disease to help them remain healthy and survive childhood, ceremonies of remembrance and commemoration like Patriot Day, Pearl Harbor Day, Veteran’s Day, etc, will help future generations by acting as a memory vaccine, giving them the memory antibodies that help them to survive. What could be better and more important than memories passed from generation to generation…Memories that allow us to see a future with hope and prosperity…in the end, we only have what we remember.

Photos below courtesy of Scout leader Jenny Gray Hough:

Read other accounts of the ceremony below:

Charleston News and Courier

WCIV News 4

WCBD News 2

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