Bits and Pieces

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Dust and Marble

Donald Rumsfeld is taking some heat for keeping a shard of metal taken from the plane that hit the Pentagon in his office. I find it hard to see what he did wrong.

Reading the article at Newsday I was reminded of something I read a while back about a bronze relief of Ronald Reagan that was attached to a piece of the Berlin Wall. I tracked it down here:

"Many of us who served during the Cold War remember what the Berlin Wall represented -- oppression, communism and a lack of trust between two super powers," said Captain Bill Goodwin. "This piece of the wall honors our namesake whom many people credit with ending the Cold War."

The people who took pieces from the Pentagon and the WTC (I hesitate to call them souvenirs) wanted something tangible to keep as a reminder of the tragedy. Is that not understandable? Our memories of 9-11 have been clouded in so many ways in the last couple of years that they now bear little resemblance to the actual events. If holding onto a piece of the wreckage helps to bring back a little perspective, to clear your memory and get in touch with what this is all about, then what's the harm?

Hell, I keep souvenirs of everything. They help bring back old memories. On the good side of the scale I'm looking at a wall full of photos of New York and Australia, and I always carry an Australian coin at the bottom of my bag. These mementos are great for digging up good memories on a bad day.

On the bad side of the scale I have a shard of glass I picked up on June 15th 1996, the day an IRA bomb tore my home town to pieces. It was Fathers Day, and the family had gone into Manchester to buy some Chinese food for tea. As you can imagine the blast took out windows up to half a mile away. I found the glass embedded in a cardboard sign, and took it home with me. I kept it in a box in my bedroom ever since.

Memory is a fleeting thing. We sometimes need things to hold onto to remind us of the past, good and bad. I don't consider myself ghoulish for keeping my shard of glass, and neither was Rumsfeld. He was just being human. In today's government it's always good to see evidence of that.

However, perhaps it isn't a great idea to hold on too tight to the memories of that day. Down that road lies anger and hate. I have forgiven the people who destroyed my town. We have since rebuilt bigger and better. We have defied those who sought to destroy us. Hey, we even made the new Marks and Spencer out of glass. We refused to live in fear of attack.

Ben Franklin said, "Write injuries in dust, benefits in marble". Maybe it's time to collect all our bad memories and put them aside. There's no need to allow our past to cast a shadow on the future. There's no problem remembering the past, as long as we bear in mind that it's only dust. The future has not been determined, and we have plenty of marble.
powered by web hosting provider