Thursday, June 2, 2011

Getting to Know You: Memorial Customs

In the United States of America – a country with which some characters might be familiar – Monday was Memorial Day, a federal holiday established to commemorate our nation's fallen soldiers. In honor of this annual day of respect, communities throughout the country hosted well-attended ceremonies, while many Americans celebrated with barbecues, picnics, and other outdoor gatherings.

The holiday made me wonder how other cultures mourn and celebrate their deceased soldiers and warriors. So, authors and characters, I ask you:

How do you honor the men, women, and creatures that have died while serving in your homeland's armed forces? With plaques, parades, songs, dances, or something else altogether?

Do tell!

20 comments:

Abigail said...

Considering how many people die in my world, it's amazing how fuzzy I am on the details...

Devi Marconi said...

That's sad, Abigail - both that you face death on a regular basis and that you have no way to honor your dead.

In Ruby Hollow, life is very sacred, and when someone dies - whether he or she is a soldier or not - we cremate him/her and enclose his/her ashes in the walls of the memorial room, behind a descriptive plaque. In that way, we can visit our loved ones at any time... and at least symbolically, they're always with us.

Galadriel said...

No, her author just had to do it so fast the details got skipped

Aidan said...

Since we're immortal and we have to be killed by someone to die, death is kind of a big deal. But then we're at war so it happens a lot.

We do the momento mori, ankh tattoos for rangers who die. I've got one on my back for my dad.

And there are other tattoos, too, like the one Jason has for his wife. She died before I was born, she was human.

And we keep stuff, too, like I have my dad's ring and Kaelin has his lighter.

Jason said...

And we don't bury our dead. We tend to cremate, if there are remains (and there often isn't) and scatter the ashes in a favored spot.

Usually rangers die by the hand of the enemy and they keep the corpses. What they do with them, I don't like to think.

Nutmeg Cross said...

I can understand that, Galadriel. It's amazing how much my author doesn't tell me. Ahem!

Laura Martone said...

Well, Meg, it's hard to tell you things I don't know either! Let me finish Devi's novel first, and then I'm all yours. Sheesh.

Aidan said...

You should really get on that, Laura.

Laura Martone said...

No kidding, Aidan. But duty calls, you know. I'm afraid that my paying gigs (travel writing) outweigh my dream (novel writing) at the moment. Wish I was as lucky as your author! Ah, someday...

Ambassador Mycroft said...

Memorialize? What is there to memorialize? On my world, we are low on energy, so the old, when it is time, honor those still living by offering their energy to the population. Thus, those young and alive benefit from those old and dead. Even this, though, isn't really enough. There is still not enough energy on my planet. Other planets and species are so lucky and ignorant, with their abundances of energy. They should not whine about sharing such a small portion of their abundance.

Devi Marconi said...

Whine, huh? Well, Ambassador Mycroft, unless you're talking about sharing the energy culled from Earth's water, coal, wind, and sun, I think it's a sure bet that most Earthlings would object to your use of our people as an energy source. How barbaric!

Ambassador Mycroft said...

Barbaric? Your "people" don't even understand energy. It is not so many different types, but one single element, that exists in different forms, and exists in the human form, more so than almost any other creature in the galaxy. Yet you ignorantly waste it, use it without knowing it, bury it in the dirt. You write poetry of the plants that sap the bare drippings of life energy that exude from the boxes you built to contain it, but you call me barbaric for helping my planet.

You don't think I've watched you? Studied you? You talk of memorial, but you lock your elders away in homes. You speak of age and wisdom, but force retirement before they are old. You spend money on flags for their coffins, but the ones that lived are homeless and forgotten. Are you so sure your fellow humans would truly cry to be rid of a social burden, if it meant a tax credit?

Even you, Devi, mentioned cremating the bodies of those you treasure, but what happens to that energy you release? It is wasted on heat and light for rocks and metal. A flash, and a few tears, and you say goodbye.

My own father, Elder Mycroft, was proud to step down from his position, and provide heat, light, and love for his entire city for a year. To wax poetic, as you Earthlings are so fond to do, it is the fondest farewell a dying man can give, for it is a gift of life into death, of heat for the living, as he walks into the chill of the beyond.

Devi Marconi said...

Oh, no, Mycroft, you misunderstand me. I don't actually consider your practice barbaric - in essense, you're simply practicing transcendentalists, repurposing energy as you see fit. And, honestly, I do find it noble of your people to willingly offer their lives so that others may live.

What I consider barbaric, however, is your comment "They should not whine about sharing such a small portion of their abundance." - which seems to imply that Earthlings should willingly perish to help YOUR energy needs. Seems rather presumptuous of you.

As to your other comments, you do so like a generalization, don't you? One reason I choose to live in an underground place like Ruby Hollow is that we aren't like the rest of the world. Here, we respect our elders. We care for them always - until the day they die (or choose to die). We encourage them to work and pursue their dreams until the time they choose to stop - not before. There is no forced retirement here, no homeless and forgotten. Everyone matters here.

As for cremating, while I can understand your point-of-view given where you live, we have enough hydroelectric energy down here to afford that one luxury - and by having a place to reflect on our dead, they are truly never forgotten.

Consider your words - and do your research - before you cast such aspersions.

Thassodar Jax said...

Devi, if the Ambassador had the kind of thoughtfulness you encourage, he would not be abducting Earth's people. I assure you, that is not the galactic policy, particularly for Protected Undeveloped Sentients, which the Ambassador should know. I am doing everything I can to put a stop to his plans and have his planet put on Limited Access. You are safe with me on watch.

Ambassador Mycroft said...

Jax, you had better watch your step. Accusing a Species Ambassador of crimes like that is a serious business. If you had any power or influence, you wouldn't be babysitting this fishpond planet in the first place. If you think I'm trafficking Protected Species, prove it, and then see if you get anyone to listen to you.

Devi Marconi said...

Thanks, Thassodar. I appreciate your vigilance... and I hope that I've misunderstood Ambassador Mycroft's intentions.

Devi Marconi said...

Hmm... now I'm not so sure I HAVE misunderstood his intentions.

Aidan said...

Sorry, Ambassador, we already have enough invaders/attackers/energy suckers. The slots are all taken at the moment. You'll have to find another planet.

Nutmeg Cross said...

You tell him, Aidan!

Galadriel said...

I know someone who would be very interested in your plan, Mycroft. Very interested indeed. And it just so happens he'll be visiting me soon. Shall I send him over?
His name is the Doctor, by the way. Perhaps you've heard of him before...