My 26th wedding anniversary is December 19th. Of course, I remember a lot about that day. It was in Houston, Texas, on the east side at the Broadway Baptist Church. The date was one we chose because I was in graduate school, and our lives ran on an academic calendar. Interestingly enough, they still do. It rained, not what you would think of as a normal rain, but a Texas Gulf Coast soaker, inches and inches pouring down. The florist had to scramble to put together the arrangements because his delivery driver had pulled about half of our order out and took it elsewhere that morning. We were in the process of moving my wife to my apartment in Ft. Worth at Southwestern Seminary, so we spent our honeymoon in Huntsville, Texas. To this day, we can tell when people we are talking to are native Texans, and whether they’re not when we mention that.
The eighth anniversary of my starting this blog was in September. As an amateur in the realm of writing, with an English minor from college that fell short of becoming a major by just a few hours as I added journalism and a few pre-law courses to my degree plan toward the end. Even though I didn’t go into either field, the skills I picked up were valuable. The blog has been an extension of the writing and journaling that I have done, almost continuously, since high school. If the counter is right, more than three thousand different people have visited this site, though there’s no way to tell how many stayed only for the few seconds they needed to find out this wasn’t what they were looking for, or how many became regulars. On its busiest day, something like 680 people visited the site. That was the day after the news story of my nomination for FVP of the BGCT appeared in the Baptist Standard. But I love the fact that people come here and read what I write. I’m honored by that, whether I influence your opinion or not.
As a history major, who taught the subject for years to high school students, and who now considers himself an amateur historian, anniversaries capture my attention and interest I always used to have a small bulletin board in my classroom with “This Day in History” at the top, noting some event of historical interest which took place on that date. Since so many things happened, I’d let the kids guess each day what I was going to put up. It might be something from a more modern era, like the Second World War, or it might be some obscure event from Chinese history. I was always careful not to draw a date line, but to put up significant events from recent history as well. Things that might not even be in their textbook often appeared, simply because I wanted them to have a sense that those events were of historic significance as well, and because something that they might do or say would have an effect on the way it was interpreted years down the road.
Some anniversaries are not oriented toward celebration as much as they are about commemoration. The Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut, which had its first anniversary this month, is a good example of that. The anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School is one of many that people still remember. Of course, September 11th still puts people in a solemn mood, and will for some time to come. Though the number of people who can remember the significance of December 7th is rapidly declining, the date still has a chilling effect.
The significance of remembering something by its anniversary is that something happens as a result of it. For me, my wedding anniversary is a reminder of how much I love my wife. Pearl Harbor day is a chance to remember and recognize the sacrifice of those who died protecting our freedom during the Second World War. Sandy Hook and Columbine should keep pestering us to do something about care for those who suffer from mental illness, and to be a little bit more guarded, careful and responsible about the right to bear arms. Kids should be safe in their school. And simply acknowledging that this is just the way things are, and that is not a reasonable expectation given the world we live in is a cop out. If that means making everyone who carries a gun register and be responsible for it, or simply placing armed guards in front of the schools, it needs to be done, and the responsibility for paying for it needs to be assumed by the community that benefits from it.
On a more lighthearted note, yes, we will be celebrating our anniversary, probably this weekend.