Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Let's Not Forget

Events in life can sometimes be thought of as rivers.  Just as with rivers events have creative as well as destructive influences on people far removed from the source.  Just as with rivers, events are difficult to control and often times efforts to control them have far reaching negative impacts well beyond our imagination.

Three events this past holiday weekend have created a confluence in "Allen's World".  These events have converged and reinforced in me a common theme and reaffirmed the importance of history.

The first event, which I have already written about was the commemoration of the Battle of Groton Heights which is also known as the Fort Griswold Massacre.  On September 6, 1781, a local man, Benedict Arnold of Norwich, CT lead the British raid on New London, CT.  The attacking force of 1,700 regular British Army soldiers was opposed at Groton's Fort Griswold by 164 citizen soldiers.  In the end, the colonists lost the battle with casualties of 85 killed and 60 wounded.

Some 230 years ago common people; farmers, merchants, tradesmen rose to the challenge, left their families to defend their cause with many never to return to their loved ones.

The second event, also a far away event but in distance rather than in time, was a phone call from my oldest son.  He called to inform me that his 24 year old brother-in-law was in the ICU of the hospital fighting for his life after a four story fall on September 3rd. It was shocking to learn that someone so young and healthy was so quickly in life threatening circumstances.  No one had expected it.

The third event was having a former teacher befriend me on Facebook.  I had been one of her students 50 years ago.  It was a reconnection to my past.  It is an opportunity for me to show her the impact and influence that she has made upon my life from her doing her job so many years ago.  Just as events mold and shape our world so do people to our lives.  I have expressed gratitude in general for the education that I received in the Groton public schools.  However, I have yet to personally demonstrate my appreciation on a personal level to one of the teachers that helped to motivate me and give me some of the tools to use later in my life.  I now have an unexpected opportunity.  However I do have some trepidation that my former English teacher may start to hand out grades on these blog entries.

This coming week also marks the tenth anniversary of the 9-11 terror attacks.  I have written of that day before.  My perspective on that day is a little different than that of many of my friends in that I was living in Brasil.  Much of what I experienced of that time was through BBC International television.  However in the aftermath of that horrible day I was struck by a couple of things.  The first were the final calls from victims in the buildings and planes to their loved ones, the final good byes, and the last words that they felt compelled to express.  The other thing were the countless stories of remorse of survivors of the victims of how they had not kissed them or told the victims how much they were loved or how much they meant to them that day.  The victims had gone off about their lives just as any other day.  Just as any other day they were expected to return home.  Things that needed to be said or should have been said were reserved for a later time; a time that never arrived for so many people.

I remember that in the time after the tragedy of 9-11, we all were more appreciative of each other.  We all held our loved ones closer and dearer to ourselves.  I suspect that we were also much more expressive of our feelings and emotions regarding each other.

Over the passage of time, for many of us, old habits have reestablished themselves.  We may not kiss our loved ones every morning upon waking.  We delay telling someone how much they mean to us or how much we appreciate them because we expect there will be tomorrow or some other day to do it.  But there will always be a September 3, September 6, or a September 11 for someone and no tomorrow for them.  There will be no later time to say or do what should or could be done today.

As we approach the tenth anniversary of 9-11, let's not forget to tell those around us how much we love them, how much they have impacted our life, and how much we appreciate them being in our life.

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