Monday, December 7, 2009

A day "that will live in infamy", perhaps.

Today is Pearl Harbor Day.  For our parents this is their 9/11.  For many of us December 7th is a day that we have heard about all of our lives and one that still shapes our foreign policy, our sense of national self, and our place in history.  While I remembered this date without prompting, most of my younger colleagues had to be reminded.  For some, the day needed to be explained.  Looking around your collection of friends, elders, and institutions, where does communal memory reside?

The press provides reminders of events that have shaped our lives.  It is often in the form of opinion pieces rather than stories about how each of us is being affected by the memory.  Businesses sometimes link their advertizing campaigns to memorable events (consider the year-end holidays) but by necessity the memorial becomes sugar-coated or sepia-toned as firsthand witnesses pass away.

It is the business of community foundations to create permanent memorials for events past.  The endowment funds held by community foundations pay tribute to causes people care and cared about.  Our small contribution in this regard is Honor Flight, a fund that has been created to fund transportation of WWII veterans to Washington, DC to see the WWII memorial there.  While small in the broad array of endowment funds we hold, it serves the purpose of a placeholder, a reminder, of what we hold dear.
The memory of their service lives on.

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