At a dedication ceremony for a new Veterans’ Memorial, the speaker reminded us of the importance of recognition that allows us to touch it, providing us with the opportunity to feel closer to those being remembered. Touch is an important aspect of all memory: we take photographs and buy souvenirs from vacations, bring home seashells from our walk on the beach, keep ticket stubs or pressed flowers from significant dates, and have boxes of crayon-filled artwork to remind us of childhood. Memories in our minds are enhanced by a physical trigger.

But those tactile accompaniments often mean little without the story that ascribes its meaning. The same is true for artwork. The sculpture at the Veterans’ Memorial means less if you do not know the significance behind it. Entitled “Skyward,” it gives visitors a view of the sky, the last thing hometown hero Chaplain Aloysius Schmitt saw while pushing sailors to safety through a porthole in a damaged ship in Pearl Harbor before perishing himself. Standing inside the sculpture and looking upward creates much more emotion than just thinking of the tragic scenario.

It’s nice to give people verbal kudos and pats on the back but remember the value of adding something lasting that you can touch. Touch plus story equals a powerful combination of recognition.

Speaker: CAPT Daniel L. Mode, Fleet Chaplain, SEVENTHFLT

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