It’s a phrase that took prominence during the Black Lives Matter movement as a gesture to personalize black lives lost through racial injustice. The practice has earlier roots, however. For example, every year at the memorial event for the 9/11 disaster, the names of the almost 3,000 victims who died as a direct result of injuries sustained in the attacks of September 11, 2001 are read aloud.
Heading to our Remembrance Day Services each year, we are accompanied by fewer and fewer veterans from our community. This year we will be lucky to have two in our midst. It is increasingly difficult to keep our promise to our veterans to remember them. Our memories grow dim; most of our veterans are long gone. Many of us have never even met one- what does the word even mean to us?
As we watch the wreaths of remembrance laid during our annual Remembrance Day service, perhaps we could start a new tradition. We could acknowledge those from our community who did something most of us cannot begin to imagine; offered their young lives in defense of freedom. We could say their names- ones that appear on the monuments and ones in the record books; offering them personal credit for a very personal sacrifice. We may not know their names now, but wouldn’t it be great if we heard them? We might actually know some of their descendants. But we don’t have to know them to honour them.
The Veteran Banner program that is spreading across the country shows us the names and the faces of our local war heroes. We look forward to seeing the names and faces of our own veterans flying from the lampposts soon. This will help us keep our promise to never forget. KG