Who among us has rendered the ultimate sacrifice, only to be forgotten a short while afterward? All too often, neglect is payment for one’s charity and compassion. The lifespan of gratitude is incredibly short—so diminutive that even Time forgets and punishes us with the memory of our own endeavors. It’s as if our deeds become forgotten sacrifices.
Perhaps some are destined for oblivion. The masses certainly forget them, and it would probably serve the martyr well if he did the same (unless, of course, he was willing to die a second death). Maybe he could instead comfort himself by believing his act was pleasing to the Universe, and that the Universe would one day acknowledge him for it.
But what if the Universe forgets, as it often seems to do? What if it failed to align the stars, and to provide the martyr with the bare necessities of life? In spite of old clichés like what goes around comes around and you reap what you sew, the Universe is an enigma best described in a poem by Stephen Crane:
A man said to the universe:
“Sir I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”
As a teenager gazing through rose-colored lenses, I loved this poem! My entire life was before me, and I thought A Man Said to the Universe spoke brilliantly about the values of hard work and responsibility. I believed that as long as people did the right things, the right things would happen for them. Boy, was I wrong! The Universe not only lacks a “sense of obligation,” but is often void of memory and morality. The Universe is comprised of forgotten sacrifices.
Hardly anything is more painful than the idea of being good for nothing. Just imagine the pain a mother feels when her child disrespects her. Is the sacrifice of loving and/or raising someone worthy of desertion or disregard? How could her child disgrace her, or forsake her in old age?
Memorial Day’s Forgotten Sacrifices
The same should be asked when our war veterans are neglected. The courage of our men and women in uniform is worthy of perpetual salute. And yet, if we’re not supporting them (financially or otherwise), tributes like Memorial Day are distorted to mean picnics, parades, and paid-time off.
In observance of one of America’s oldest and most significant holidays, this installment of Monday Unleaded is a tribute to those who suffer forgotten sacrifices; those who, each day, forgo their own limitations for the sake of family and countrymen. Truly, the Universe has no sense of obligation. But we as human beings should. Each of us is indebted to someone—whether it be a companion, mentor, or absolute stranger. Take time today to acknowledge their efforts, and to ensure that no sacrifice is forgotten.
This is your Monday Unleaded for the week of May 26, 2013. Have a Happy and Safe Memorial Day, and productive week!
What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong aka Satchmo