Sunday, March 11, 2018

Remember Me Day.

I knelt in front of the photos. The display featured the names and faces of 24 people, men and women, younger and older, studying to join our faith community.

Crouching down, it took four group shots to capture all the images of the four-panel display in front of the church pulpit. Our pastor, Fr. Sam Mukundi,  had asked us to "do something good with your phones" and take pictures of the display in order to pray for each of the featured people, one person a day until Easter vigil. That's when they would be baptized, receive other sacraments and become official members of the Church. We would remember them in prayer, asking for God's grace in their spiritual lives.

After 9-11, some people said, "Never forget." I wonder how many of us take time each day to remember the victims and their families. Time to think about them compassionately. I wonder how that daily prayer discipline would impact our approach to keeping world peace. To working for solutions to terrorism and policies that help to diffuse violent ideologies. We may remember the numbers who die in tragedies but not the names and faces. Nearly 3,000 murdered in the U.S. in one day by 19 highjackers armed with box cutters. Those who knew and loved the victims remember them as three dimensional individuals. The rest of us remember the headcount but, unfortunately, not so much the souls.

How many of us know the names of those slaughtered recently at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida? We know 17 died, but I haven't looked up their names and studied their faces recently. What about the Las Vegas concert massacre? Fifty-eight dead, 489 wounded ranging in age from 20 to 67. How many faces can we identify? How many names do we recall?

At an Orlando night club, a gunman took 49 lives.

At Virginia Tech University, 32 died and then the shooter killed himself.

Other outrageous mass shootings  include 26 dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School, plus the killer and his mother, and nine murdered church members at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

We can count the hits and may always remember the names of the shooters like Dylan Roof and Stephen Paddock. But what about the victims and their loved ones?

The Web makes it easy to find the facts of each of these horrors. Google anything you remember about the tragedy and the powerful search engine will take you there. Images and names are clicks away.

And it's just a little more challenging to find those who are shot on America's streets and in U.S. homes, day after day, including cops.

Each year, on Memorial Day we remember those servicemen and women who died in U.S. warfare. Sadly, in the last 50 years, more Americans have died on U.S. soil, killed by guns, than in all our wars combined. What about memorializing those Americans killed by Americans? A special day like that would be controversial and take a long while to enshrine in our culture. Meanwhile, we can search the online cemetery and visit the virtual headstones and crypts of our fellow Americans whose lives are taken by guns, day after day.

Will we remember?

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