History is both a blessing and a burden to the Southerner.
We cling to our traditions like a lifeline. We pass down heirlooms and recipes from generation to generation. We tell tales of our ancestors both heroic and hapless. Many of us carry the names of those who came before. We reenact. We recount. We remember.
But there are things that I don’t wish to remember. I don’t wish to remember days of bigotry and hatred. I don’t wish to remember the years Daddy was away from us in the Navy, Mama sad and worried. I don’t wish remember friends taken from us too early. I don’t wish to remember families irreparably broken.
And I don’t wish to remember the morning ten years ago when I sat holding my baby son watching the world as we knew it crumble in to piles of twisted metal and ash. I don’t wish to remember the sight of people jumping from smoky windows, children crying for missing parents, the wounded bleeding in the streets.
Lest you think me hard-hearted or callous, let me say this: The reason that I don’t wish to remember is not because I don’t wish to honor those whose lives were taken and given. I do. Not because I deny lessons that are well-learned from the past. I believe knowledge it power. It is because I wish these things had never happened so that they would not have wound up housed in my psyche. It is because some things are just too bad and painful to recall.
I wish that the world was a peaceful place. I wish that people did what they were supposed to do. I wish the young were as immortal as they feel and the old would never leave us. I wish my son would only have memories of an idyllic, red wagon childhood.
However, like all of my Southern brethren and, I imagine, my sisters and brothers worldwide, I am burdened by history and the inability to change it. Burdened by memories of things that happened before I was even born. Burdened by distant folkways. Burdened by stereotype.
But I am also blessed. I count those many blessings and name them one by one every day. Family, friends, humor, and love. Forgiveness, tolerance, calm, and stability. Home, hearth, education, and luck. The ability to create new memories, and, in my own small way, change the world just a teeny, tiny little bit.
So I hope that you will forgive me and not think me weak when I say that today I must summon a fictional heroine and her mantra to combat the sad memories that I cannot help but have. I shan’t think about them today. I will think about them tomorrow, for tomorrow is another day.