As I walked though the Imphal War Cemetery, full of soldiers who died as the Allied forces stopped the Japanese pushing from Burma into India, I wondered who remembers. The cemetery showed all the signs of being in the hands of someone who cared. The lawns were neatly manicured, the copper headstones polished, and the flowers were trimmed and in bloom. Everything externally was in order. It was as if the graves were set and memories ready – just waiting for somebody important to come and spend time.
I wonder what was in the minds of the kids that sat in small groups. They seemed preoccupied by the excitement of the day; the latest music, what the girls were planning to do later that day, fashion, or the appearance of their motorcycle. Did they realize the sacrifice represented in the park of remembrance or was it merely a great clean place to meet in the early evening?
It was easy to create mythical memories. One was the airman from the Royal Canadian Air Force, another an officer from the West Yorkshire Regiment. Another, the East African Corp brought a flood of images. The name representing a soldier dying in a country with little or no connection to the place he called home. In between, I waked by the scattered headstones of unknown soldiers killed facing the enemy. I wonder what are the real stories. Do their families still remember? Are the memories of these sons, fathers, and brothers still alive?
I often bury the pain of the past deep and away, not willing to face the reality of life in the present. I set up a cemetery for my failures, hoping that someone will keep them far away from view. As I do this, I find myself repeating yesterday’s mistake yet again. The warning is plain; “The shadow of your sin will overtake you; you’ll find yourselves stumbling all over yourself in the dark.” (Proverbs 5.22)
Pain, failure, and death are not easy; remembering the good, noble, and lessons learned is at the heart of life.