This I Believe

Brent - Kinsley, Kansas
Entered on August 25, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: legacy


I believe that a name often remembered, and linked with fond memories or important events, imparts immortality.

A few years ago, on Martin Luther King’s birthday observance, I had my kids at home with me. My wife had to go to work. We had talked as she prepared for work and we concluded that pretty much the only organizations that observe MLK day are the government, schools and banks. My wife said she does not understand why there should be a holiday for MLK, or Washington, or Lincoln for that matter. She has more spiritual affinity for holidays that represent a concept, or an event, such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Veterans Day.

So we launched into a discussion, because I did not fully agree with her. I personally rank MLK day up there with Thanksgiving. This is because, to me, MLK day represents a very powerful concept – the concept of civil equality, not just for people of different hue, but for all people, regardless of gender, beliefs, culture or socio-economic status. MLK Day represents civil equality that nourishes the cultural diversity that helps to make the United States a special place to live.

Actually, I believe that other “birthday” holidays, such as Washington’s, or Lincoln’s, are worthy of observance for much the same reason…for what the person represents.

In fact, human history is largely a history of people, and more specifically, individuals around whom others have rallied to further a cause. But there is an enigma embedded in the observance of birthdays as holidays. Why not merely dedicate holidays to the concept, or even the event, rather than to the person? To put it bluntly, most people have trouble holding dear to their heart an abstract concept. Most people need something more concrete, such as a person of flesh and blood. Or a name. Are not most great events in human history inextricably bound with a great person who championed an idea and devoted their life to giving substance to an abstraction? Therefore, by all means, celebrating a person’s birthday is most appropriate. This I believe.

On a more personal note…

My father, Jack , died last week. Last night I awakened in the wee hours of the morning. My shame had haunted my dreams throughout the night. I aroused myself from bed and went to write down some words about my inner conflict. The faces of many of those whom I had called family or friend, and with whom I had lost touch over the years, troubled me. To my utter distress, I could not even put names to some of the faces and memories. Whenever I could remember a name, I tucked it away, like a treasure, in my conscious mind. So I wrote this down….

Names never seemed important…but with time the names and faces fade, along with the memory. I am determined to remember their names and treasure their memories, though a continent come between us. This I believe.