Memorial Day is supposed to be a day of remembrance for the soldiers who never made it home, but more often than not, it turns into a celebration of the beginning of summer for many families. As we lose another generation of veterans to inevitable old age, the memories of those who fell in combat during their time of service become lost. But it doesn’t have to be so.
Not everyone who is a storyteller has a gift for writing or the confidence to put pen to paper. (In the case of those remaining few who were children during WWII, they may not be able to read or write anymore.) But at the same time, not every book or short story collaboration needs to be between two writers. If we wish to preserve more of the past before it disappears, the unique stories of individual experiences, then it’s up to those with a gift for writing (or film or songwriting, painting, etc.) to help our elders share their stories.
Not everyone with a gift for writing has the confidence to tell stories of their own. But if they have a love of storytelling, they can help others to tell the stories of the past before they disappear. Every family and every town has its own history, and while it may not seem important to the current generation today, at some point, that history will become necessary to connect the future with the past. Whether those connections are built of people or places, it is the stories that lay the foundation.
Without stories, there is no history and there is no sentimental value, no sacred places worth protecting and no family treasures passed down from one generation to the next. Without stories, we cannot preserve and learn from the wisdom gained by former generations and we lose track of the progress made in the battles they started or continued, both socially and politically. Without stories, we do not recognize when we are repeating the mistakes of the past. We need stories, and we need to preserve the memories of our elders to make sure their stories continue to be told.