Remembering

I just left a funeral of a man I wish I had been closer to, because he was remarkable in every sense of the word. He was known in the city of Richmond as a civic leader, he helped found the Festival of India and chaired it for many years, he was an entrepreneur, in fact that’s how he crossed my path; I met him when I joined his company, CXI, as a technical recruiter. He was a godfather to many, he was a prankster, he was fiercely opinionated, especially about politics, he was short-tempered but quick to recognize and atone for his mistakes, and he had a large and loving heart. He was decisive, he was funny– he had a variety of personalities he would mimic at parties, and he was, in every way, East meets West. He was Hindu, but respectful and appreciative of all cultures. He was born and raised in India, and lived in Richmond, but he was a citizen of the world.

It might sound silly, but the thing that sticks in my mind about him was how he treated those around him. If you walked past his office, it did not matter what he was doing, he dropped everything and, with completely genuine interest, inquired about how you were and what you were doing. And his manner served as an example through throughout the office– if he came upstairs to say hi and see what was going on, you dropped everything to inquire after him, to show him the respect that he always showed others. But that’s how he was– in every way, he made you want to be as good of a man as he was– whether it was his business acumen, or his dedication, or his philanthropy or love of every person that he met. Or something as small as the daily ways he interacted with those who worked for him. He will be missed in this community, and in the lives of many, for quite some time.

Today is also the anniversary of 9/11. Let me recommend to you, if you ever have the choice, to try not to attend a funeral on 9/11, it makes for quite a day. But one of my friends posted something on Facebook, written by someone she knows, that is an appropriate sentiment for both the celebration of this great man’s life, and the remembrance of the tragedies of 11 years ago.

At 8:58 EDT, the exact time, I went outside, and looked at the cloudless blue sky, just like 11 years ago. How could the birds be singing as if nothing was wrong? Because, if they observed every anniversary of every tragedy, there would never be time for song. Yet this was a Great Tragedy. Surely, on the anniversary of Great Tragedies, birds would pay homage. No, they are all Great Tragedies to those who are directly touched.

We can mourn, but let us not wallow in it. We must realize we mourn for ourselves and each other, not for those who’ve gone to a more peaceful place. We must honor them. And the greatest honor? It is to emulate. Let us be like them: strong, quiet, prepared, happy to be a big part of this life, and yet happy to put this life on the line for their neighbors.

Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg apply to us, lest we spend too much time remembering, and not enough time emulating: “But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Let us go forth, inspired by these heroes, rededicated, ready to give our last full measure for our neighbors. -Rick Christ

Let us be sure that we make the most of the time that we have with those we love.