Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Remembrance

היום ששה וארבעים יומים שהם ששה שבועות וארבעה יומים לעמר
Today is the forty-sixth day of the omer - six weeks and four days
נצח שבמלכת

A day of endurance in a week of majesty

This morning at minyan I once again commemorated the yarhzeit of my uncle, Edward Heiss, a bombardier in World War II whose plane was shot down over Malaysia on January 11, 1945. His name was later found on the roster of a Japanese prisoner of war camp, but he never made it home.

This particular yarhzeit has taken on significance to me that goes beyond the personal. Make no mistake, deep emotions are stirred within me. I feel so connected to this man who I never knew. I mourn for the love and laughter he would have added to our family. I mourn for my father's loss of his brother and mentor; for my grandparent's loss of their oldest son. On this day I channel their grief--tear pour out and my voice catches as I recite the El Malei prayer to honor his life. You can read the words I share here, and reflections of Memorial Day's past here and here.

But on this day that has come to mean the start of summer more than a day of remembrance, honoring the memory of my uncle brings home the reality of the lives lost in war. There are many families who are grieving as my family grieved; in as much denial as my grandfather, who could not accept the loss of his son. It is important to me to bring that realization to my community each Memorial Day, to hold that consciousness in their hearts. We need to remember that war, justified or not, will take its toll--on the living as well as the countless lives lost. And true healing from those wounds does not come from forgetting those lost lives, but remembering and celebrating them.

Zichrono L'Vracha, Uncle Eddie.
Your memory is a blessing to me, and to those who hear your story.

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