The ship sank — why can’t we get over it?

I was playing a computer game last night when I happened to look at the clock and realized it was exactly 100 years ago that the Titanic lowered away the last lifeboat. I waited to see if I was sad, decided I was more frustrated that I couldn’t escape the cat zombies and went back to my game. I have no ancestors who were on the Titanic. We were never the ocean liner sort. I didn’t like the movie that much, though people around me were sobbing their hearts out. What’s it to me this century later?

This month we also marked the 75th anniversaries of America’s entry into World War I and the Canadians’ victory at Vimy Ridge, and later we will celebrate ANZAC Day.

Not my family. Not my fight. It’s true my grandfather was drafted, but my grandmother would have married him, anyway. And my Great-Uncle Elmer did fight in France, but I never even met him.

On the other hand, my ex-husband and I watched coverage of the 60th anniversary of D-Day together. It was late when he got up to leave. I walked him to the door and he suddenly said, “Sixty years ago, right this minute, my father’s ship hit a mine in the English Channel” — and we both burst into tears.

Why do we count the years away? Because every event in history shrinks in the distance as time leaves it behind. Anniversaries give us the chance to make the moments big again, so we can be present to the people who were there, who suffered and struggled and did the best they could, even when they failed. It makes us bigger, too.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them

We will remember them all.


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