The Power of a Memory

It has been said that the tongue is sharper than the sword. Words can cut deep and cause more damage than a sword and whereas a cut from a sword will heal the 2nd and 3rd order effects of words linger on and on, often a lifetime. But words can also bring light and warmth.

During an interview with Ken Burns, the creator of some of the best documentaries ever, it was said many of the narrations used during the making of the epic “Civil War” documentary came from journals written by soldiers who actually participated in the battles. Letters written to family members and actual journals maintained by soldiers and by-standers from both sides of the conflict. Two things come to mind here. The first is that the soldier thought it important to write their story and the second, the families that saved these letters and journals.

Today we are quick to read a note or letter (or email) and then discard or delete it as trash. We read it, so no need to clutter our existence with the paper it was written on or waste the storage space on our hard drives. Right?

Perhaps not. Words carry weight and words written have a place, often a cherished place if we use the proper words with the proper intent. We just don’t realize it. Today at work I was looking for an OPORD. I’ll not get into what an OPORD is because it really has no merit with regard to this thought. While looking I found a letter sent to me by my sister and inside was a copy of a story written by my Aunt Lora about my Aunt Nita when they were young. I set aside the search for the illusive OPORD and again read the story written by my Aunt Lora. It was a letter telling of memories of her younger sister (my Aunt Nita) while they were growing up.

It is a toss-up on which of these two wonderful ladies is the most precious to me. They both display a grace and generosity that is hard to find in so many other people I associate with. My Aunt Nita recently passed away and I believe it is that passing that precipitated the writing of that collection of memories; memories that would have been lost were it not for a desire to share them by my Aunt Lora. The memories included snippets about Nita, Bris (my Dad), and the arrival of baby brother Joe and little sister Vivi. It was a great read.


We are quick to bad mouth each other, even those we love, but seldom will we take the time to share a good memory. We need to fix that. I often question my resolve to write and I always decide to continue regardless of the fact that very few read my words.

Take time to write a story. We often remember things from our past and that thought might linger for a moment then is swept away by other thoughts of less importance or the ringing of the evil and ever-present cell phone. Rather than let these memories dissolve in the mist of thought, write them down. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. Spelling and grammar take a back seat to the actual memory.

Perhaps someday Ken’s great-grandson will do a documentary and he will need those words.  We’ll let him edit for spelling and proper grammar.

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