Carry On

Through the stories of others we can share the pain of loss and the joy in memories. We can remind each other what it is to cry and grow and ultimately pick up the pieces and move on with our lives, no matter how slowly. Memory is not only a tool of immortalization or honor, but also a retreat and a comfort. In Jonathan Safran Foer’s 2005 book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, he explores the psyche of a young boy, Oscar, whose father was killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center. In the book Oscar struggles to make sense of his life but finds comfort in the memory of his father and does all he can to preserve it. Through the character and his book, Foer asks us deep questions like ‘What was it really like to be there?’, ‘Do we dishonor the dead by moving on?’ and ‘What does one do when they’ve lost everything?’.

Writer David Rieff thinks it’s time to move on. In his article, After 9/11, The Limits of Remembrance he discusses the ignored benefits of forgetfulness. It is his opinion that to forget is to heal and to move on. To put so much energy into memorializing, he says, only prolongs feelings of sadness and resent. Pearl Harbor is an adequate example in that the majority of people have ‘forgotten’ the event (very rarely think of it), allowing for peaceful relations with Japan. Rieff’s point is that we must forget to forgive and to carry on with our own lives.

In my own opinion, I value the keeping of memories over ignoring them. To forget may be easier, but blissful ignorance is ignorance just the same. It is when we remember the mistakes of our past that we learn from them. It is when we look back on the memories of lost loved ones that we can enjoy their warmth again, even if only in our own minds. You can’t fully move past a tragedy without forgiveness, but that doesn’t mean we need to lose our past entirely. The middle ground is the destination- that place where we can honor the fallen and forge on as a nation of peace.

-Cali P