Memorial Day reminds us all of some of the more important qualities of memory.
I attended a reading by author and Honorary Consul General Helen Szablya recently; she and her family escaped Hungary as the Soviets were crushing the people’s uprising in the 1950’s. The terror of their escape still present in her eyes, Mrs. Szablya shared advice from an uncle: “where there is no memory, there is no pain.” Our human wish to forget our worst experiences in order to avoid the pain they bring is well known; so many authors, painters, musicians, filmmakers, and other artists experiment with capturing the vagaries of memory in their work. (I’ll wager at least half of the old Twilight Zone episodes had some play on what we remember, and who remembers us.) We strive equally to remember and to forget, as means of learning and moving forward.
As authors of science fiction and fantasy, we create compelling stories of memories lost, found, shared, transported, faked, created, destroyed, and honored. In An Alien’s Guide, one main character has forgotten the first twelve years of her own life; another works hard to avoid remembering his failures. Discovering memories with the assistance of sacred objects helps them all put their own broken stories back together.
One of the most painful questions humans ask is “who is worthy of remembering?” On this Memorial Day, I’d like to share my answer: Everyone.
In honor of all I have known and loved, and who knew and loved me, whether as an individual person or simply as part of the community of this human race; to all who expressed their love in service of all kinds: I remember you, today.