Friday, November 14, 2008
Friday Five- Remembrance Day
The Friday Five prompts come from this website.
Earlier this week the U.S. celebrated Veterans' Day (11/11), known in many other countries as Remembrance Day. At this time last year I was commuting to a postdoc in Canada, and I was moved by the many red poppies that showed up there on people's lapels in honor of the observance. The poppies simply honor the sacrifice and dedication of those who have followed their consciences by serving--sometimes dying--in the military.
This week's Friday Five invites reflection on the theme of remembrance, which is also present in the feasts of All Saints, celebrated in many liturgical churches on November 1, and All Souls--known in Latin@ cultures as the Day of the Dead--celebrated in some the following day.
1. Did your church have any special celebrations for All Saints/All Soul's Day?
My congregation had a special liturgy for All Saints and we lit candles in the front of the sanctuary, remembering those who have died. The number of candles was amazing because they serve as a reminder that loss occurs beyond our community and the way that we know each other. There were many candles.
2. How about Veterans' Day?
We did not have a special service on Veteran's Day. I was out of town on a clergy retreat. We had scheduled a special service for Sunday, 9 November (a healing service) and I regret, deeply, that within that service- we did not take a moment to recognize veterans. I think we shall remedy that this coming Sunday.
3. Did you and your family have a holiday for Veterans' Day/Remembrance Day? If so, how did you take advantage of the break?
Again, I was out of town on Tuesday. My husband did have the day off from work and, I think, if we had been together- we would have spent the day enjoying each other's company.
4. Is there a veteran in your life, living or dead, whose dedication you remember and celebrate? Or perhaps a loved one presently serving in the armed forces?
My husband is in the National Guard. He's both a federal employee of the Guard (he works for them during the week) and in the Guard (the one weekend a month and two weeks a year). He flies cargo planes (C-23s). He spent 6 months last year in Iraq and we expect he will be re-deployed to the same location next year. He was a veteran before that deployment because of his time in the Army and locations in which he had previously served.
5. Do you have any personal rituals which help you remember and connect with loved ones who have passed on?
I have recently started wearing my paternal grandmother's engagement ring. She died in September 2006 and I have missed her terribly. She was able to come to my wedding and gave me a pearl necklace to wear that day, which my grandfather had given her. She left me her engagement ring. For my own engagement ring, I picked something I could wear all the time and never worry about (no stone). Also, I have some political feelings about diamonds. However, I began to think about this ring recently and, having lost my other grandmother at the end of August, I was looking for something that would help me with how much I missed both of them.
I live in Alaska and all of my grandparents are buried on the East Coast. Occasionally, I think of them and I wonder if, wherever they are, they are thinking of me. At my ordination and installation as a pastor, I strongly felt the presence of both my grandmothers (neither of whom, on the surface, were fans of women pastors) strongly rooting for me. I know they are at the head of my cloud of witnesses.
Friday Five bonus (from me!): When I was in England, I was stunned when on 11/11 at 11:11 am, everything stopped for 2 minutes of silence. I was studying in a bookstore and the announcement came over the intercom that we would have two minutes of silence in honor of Remembrance Day (commemorating the signing of the armistice to end the First World War) and for all who sacrificed (and continue to do so). I was amazed and really moved at how still everyone became. I wish we would observe the occasion with the same solemnity in the United States. Veteran's Day/ Remembrance Day is not political- it's emotional. It's about honoring the men and women who gave of themselves so that our lives could continue- without fear.