Some Gave All
The mayor is usually asked to give a speech at the Monument Point Memorial Day ceremony in Heisler Park. In 1994 I was mayor so that request came to me. “What to say?” I wondered. “Here I am in this wonderful city, safe, with the worst attacks being verbal ones. Yet there are lists and lists of names of those who will never enjoy the beauty, the softness and the freedom of this place and this country, this world, ever again.”
My friend Doug Reilly suggested the Billy Ray Cyrus song “Some Gave All” as an inspiration.
“All gave some and some gave all
And some stood through for the red, white and blue
And some had to fall
And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties and recall
Some gave all.”
It brought back childhood memories of a school mate, Patsy Storm, whose younger siblings had a different last name. “Why?” I wondered. “Her father was killed in World War II, and her widowed mom remarried,” I was told. Patsy was the reminder.
I would go to the auditorium in our small town’s city hall, with its creaking wood floors, bare except for the chairs and the rows of photographs of our town’s fallen soldiers lining the walls. I would stand there gazing, searching for Patsy’s dad. Gray faces, uniform caps and jackets. Faces gazing blankly back. I never found him. Did any of them think their photos would be on display among the lost soldiers in their hometown’s memorial exhibit? Surely they all experience the natural fears that go with that possibility. And they hoped like we all would that they could do their part in defeating the forces threatening our country and still come home safely to their families. That hope was taken from them. All was taken.
This past week two teachers and eight students were shot. Not even to defend our country. Not to defeat a horrible dictator. For no understandable reason. After the Florida school shooting Emma Gonzalez recited the names of all those who had been killed. They “will never” ever do any of the things all of us continue to do every day.
For those of us still here, the reality of what others have lost has a meaning and a responsibility. We should not be giving “some,” but much more. In fact we can never give enough to compensate for the lives that have been unfairly surrendered.
“I don’t have time,” “Not on my dime,” are phrases we can set aside. We will never regret being too generous. In fact this infectious generosity may be the only way to spread the happiness that will change the spirit of our country and the world.
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry reminded us of Martin Luther King’s entreaty at last week’s royal wedding. “We must discover love. The redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world.”
Ann Christoph is a landscape architect and former City Council member.