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Archive for the ‘day of the dead’ Category

I’m currently reading End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James Swanson (don’t run out and buy it; it’s not the best book out there on the subject). Today I am at the part where the body is brought home to the White House and preparations are made for the funeral. Although I have read a myriad of books about this and saw so much of this unfold on live television in 1963, it is always heart wrenching and tears follow. Needless to say it has been an emotional day.
I’m struck by the timeliness of this reading as it is not only coming up on the 51st anniversary of the assassination but also because today is day of the dead, a day when people welcome their lost loved ones as they return from the dead to comfort their live family and friends. It is believed that to forget a departed friend or family sends them to true death while remembering them keeps them alive for as long as the memories are alive. I’m one that believes that the dead don’t leave us. They are always with us in spirit and in our hearts and minds.
When someone like President Kennedy dies, the entire world knows about it and mourns the passing and remembers them in history books. Their loved ones are accompanied in their sorrow by strangers who loved and mourn them. Indeed, even when there is no more family to mourn them, they will go on in history books and on the Internet.
What happens when someone dies and they are unknown except to their friends and family? Are they any less worthy of being mourned and being remembered? Is it only the famous and the infamous that live on in our memories? Is their death any less significant?
Everyone is worthy of being loved and remembered and mourned. Everyone. Every death is significant, if not to many, to a few. Every death.
I’m thinking now of those I’ve lost. Maybe only my family remembers them. Maybe only we still mourn them. But they go on in our hearts. I know that each of my brothers is with me as I go through my daily life. Something will remind me of them and I smile. Sometimes the memories bring tears, but that’s okay. Tears are not always bad; not always sad. When I see my nieces and nephews, I see my brothers in them. When I see their grandchildren I know that they live on in those children. I know that they are here, not just on the day of the dead but every time someone thinks of one of them, they live on.
Maybe they weren’t important and maybe they won’t be in a history book but each of my brothers, David, Richard, and Carlos, lives on. I feel them with me at times. They walk the earth. They live on.

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Los dias de los muertos is a wonderful holiday and tradition. In Mexico, there is a connection between the living and the dead. Each is part of the other. Not surprisingly, Mexicans don’t fear death as they accept it as part of the natural cycle of life. They know they aren’t really gone. They live on in the lives and hearts of those they love.

Some time ago, when my middle child was in seventh grade, I volunteered to put on a presentation for her social studies class. The presentation was about the culture, tradition, and significance of the day of the dead. Before long the teacher had volunteered me to present to each of her five classes instead of just my daughter’s. This was the first of many day of the dead presentations I put on over the following six years. In fact, when I was working, I took the day off from work to put on the presentation at the school.

Before the presentation, I would provide the teacher with a handout covering the background of the tradition, including the origin of it and how it is not only a religious celebration but a testament to the indigenous ways winning out over the squelching of yet another tradition and religious rite by the Catholic Spaniard conquering population. The handout was to go to the parents before the day of the presentation to inform them of the content in case they wanted to exclude their child from it. I warned that we’d be talking about the dead and the role they play in our lives. Then there was a list of things that the students could bring, should they so choose, to add to a class altar we would build during the presentation. (more…)

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