By Mary Sansom
I was told by a friend after this year’s Retiree Convention that someone asked--why are we honoring people that are dead and gone and no one knows? I have been thinking about this subject since the Convention wondering how to relay my thoughts.
For me it is a personal thing. Yeah, I did not personally know many of the people named. Some I had heard about from retirees and some I did know personally. I guess it’s like why in May I observe Memorial Day, in July I observe Independence Day and in November I observe Veterans Day. (And by “observing” I mean going to the cemetery, not to the lake, or just having a picnic or BBQ). Many of those dead and gone people I do not know personally either, but they did something for me so I would be free and safe. I figure the least I can do is honor them by remembering them for a few minutes every year, by laying a wreath on their grave or reading their name in a Memorial Service, ringing a bell or just stopping for a moment in whatever I am doing to quietly remember.
The Moment of Silence at the Retiree Convention is (for me) a way to honor the named union members for their contributions to the labor union movement. Maybe they got arrested at a job action or protest, maybe they had gone on strike to fight for a benefit that all of us now have, maybe they had created an event that is beneficial to everyone or maybe they had been hurt or killed on the job. Whatever the reason, someone felt these persons should be remembered and honored; and even some of the awards given out by the MN State Retiree Council, AFL-CIO are named in honor of someone who went above and beyond.
I hope when I am gone that someone will think I did something special and do the same for me. A great labor leader Mother Jones is often quoted, “Honor the dead, and pray like Hell for the living”. I do.