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"Sewing Circles of Herat"
by Christina Lamb

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by Orhan Pamuk

September 11, 2008

Remember . . .

I wonder how long this day will be remembered. When you hear the phrase "Remember the Alamo," or "Remember the Maine," and even "Remember Pearl Harbor," unless you were alive at the time or had a family member who was involved, these dates and battles and events become something quickly gone over in a history class.

The Battle of the Alamo was fought in February and March 1836 in San Antonio, Texas. After a 13 days siege by 2,000 Mexicans, 189 men died fighting for the freedom of Texas. There were only two survivors. Among those who were killed was William Barret Travis, the 26 year old Commander of the Alamo. James Bowie, of Bowie knife fame, was the co-commander of the Alamo. He was killed in his bed where he laid sick with pneumonia, in a small room in the south side. He was 41 years old. Another notable who was there was David (Davy) Crockett. His body was found in small fort in the west side. He was 50 years old. There were between 200 and 400 Mexicans who were killed as well. They lost this battle but eventually Texas became part of the United States. This loss and the saying, "Remember the Alamo", were the impetus behind the battle to free Texas. These men are remembered in Texas by the "Texians", in Mexico by the Mexicans. Their families remembered them and mourned their loss. The Alamo now is an attraction for the curious tourists who come to San Antonio.

There were 266 men killed when the Maineblew up and 8 died later of their wounds. The sinking of the Maine on 15 February 1898 precipitated the Spanish-American War. I am sure that those men were mourned and remembered by their families.

I have visited the Arizona Memorial in Hawaii a number of times and am always touched by the story of the 2402 brave young people who were killed on December 7, 1941, in Pearl Harbor Hawaii. I happened to be in Hawaii on the 60th anniversary of the event and saw so many youngsters there with their grandfathers. The grandfathers were trying to make "Remember Pearl Harbor" a saying that has meaning and gravitas. But, I am afraid that in time, when the grandfathers have died, Pearl Harbor, too, will become just another date in the history books. I am glad there is now a memorial to The Greatest Generation now in Washington.

There were ceremonies today and pictures of the memorials dedicated to 2996 people who died on 9/11, 2001. There are now memorials at the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The memorial in New York City has yet to be finished. People from at least 90 different countries were killed. The wounds are still fresh and the mourning is continuing, especially for those who lost a loved one on that day. But I wonder how long we will remember. Will this day eventually become just another date in the history books? I hope not. I hope that we will keep, not just the memory of the day but the purpose of our enemies fresh and say, along with the those who lost people and families in the Holocaust, Never Again.

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