Last Monday was Memorial Day. My husband, his sister who has been staying with us for a long overdue visit, and I drove to the National Cemetery south of Dallas to put flowers on the graves of their father and aunt, their father's sister, both of whom served in World War II. We joined many others at that beautiful spot to honor those who have served their country.
The beautiful day blessed us as we stood at their gravesides and offered our own blessings and words of thanksgiving for their sacrifices and the sacrifices of so many others buried there.
My husband and his sister had spent many hours during this visit discussing their upbringing in a clearly troubled household. Although their parents stayed married for over 60 years, the marriage was turbulent and often violent, with that violence expressed from parent to parent and from parents to children. A lovely exterior of an accomplished family masked some pretty awful interior scenes.
This is hardly an uncommon situation. Domestic violence is rampant, hidden and rarely reported. It's not new, or limited to only certain socio-economic classes or ethnicities. It's everywhere. People with power have abused that power from the beginning of human history, and power comes in many forms. It can be physical, emotional, spiritual, financial. Those with power can use it to empower others. Or they can use it to trap others and beat them down. There was much beating down in their household of origin.
The memories of such experiences stay, and the discussion of those memories can often lead to freedom and healing. But that freedom can only come when those doing the remembering decide to stop blaming their own problems on those who have gone before. Instead, they must make intentional choices to stop the cycle of blame and violence and find their own freedom from it before such evil is perpetuated to the next generation.
Jesus said, "You shall know the truth, and it shall set you free." Part of knowing the truth is holding onto our memories and remembering well. We must remember those who laid down their lives for us so that we are indeed free. And we must also remember injustices, not to play the victim or lay blame, but so that we ourselves with act justly. That kind of truth does indeed set us free.