This afternoon I walked the Air Medical Memorial site with my daughter Megan. I was there to see what preparation may be necessary for the upcoming ceremony in June. The experience of visiting the site is always very moving to me and I find myself reminiscing. There was the day my brother and I found the site, the day we learned that the land was generously donated to the memorial, our groundbreaking, and the remembrance ceremonies that followed. This is also the place where countless lifelong friendships have begun, and families have found significance and solitude.
At the center of the site, we have a hole where a flagpole is placed and a flag is raised every year. I was looking to see what had made a home in the hole or if it had filled up with rainwater like last year. It was completely obscured by mud. After finding the hole and clearing the first several inches, I looked for a rock to mark the location.
I found a rather unremarkable rock a few feet away and picked it up. Like most rocks in the area, this was your garden-variety quartz, about 10 inches in length, mostly flat, with groves that run along its length.
As I picked it up, I began to study its features. I’m a sentimental person who will pick up a rock from a place or time I want to remember, and stick it in my pocket. It doesn’t have to be special or unique in appearance, just something from a place I don’t want to forget.
As I wiped dirt from its surface, I noticed that this particular quartz was made up of several smaller structures. It looked as though this rock was made up of hundreds of other smaller rocks. Each a different color, shape and size, and they all fit together perfectly to make this larger rock.
It struck me that this rock is a wonderful metaphor for the memorial itself. You can look at each of the smaller segments as representations of those we have lost and those who have been impacted by that loss.
Just as the molecules of silicon did not choose to be part of this rock, we did not choose to be joined by our common bond that is the result of extreme and adverse forces beyond our control. Together we are stronger. Collectively we choose to remember, heal, repair and live again.