We celebrate the memory of the dead, that is, life and death. For our relatives and friends, the members of the Armed Forces, «…τήδε κείμεθα τοις κείνων ρήμασι πειθόμενοι» ("Here, obedient to their word, they lay").
And while nothing is more certain than death, we find it difficult to talk about it.
It scares us. But because the basis of death is life, let us reconsider how we live it as long as we have the time. That is, let us meditate on the principles and values we are basing our lives on.
These determine the quality of our lives. And these mark our backwardness.
I now wish to offer some examples through some memories of the people I have known.
Our neighbor, Mr. Stamatis, was a good friend of my father’s.
I do not know what they talked about to each other, but I know that they looked upon each other with appreciation, understanding, and love – and that they would help each other in a heartbeat without a thought of compensation.
Mr. Stamatis remained a loyal friend of the family after my father's death, until he too ‘left’ recently. He did what was obvious for him. He stood by his friend's family.
Mr. Stamatis was a humble man, but he exuded wisdom and an unusual depth. His words were few, but rich. He had lived his life with principles and values that were unnegotiable. During his life, he held fast to the threads that connected him to his world, relatives and friends who lived with him and before him.
“He has left,” but he is not forgotten.
My childhood friend Antonis immigrated to Rhodesia when he was 18 years old. He went there because it was easy. Because the Ian Smith regime begged whites to immigrate there to improve the white-black ratio as much as possible.
He worked hard to help his ailing father and family. He left for South Africa when life in Rhodesia had become very difficult due to the war.
Later, he returned with his own family to Lemnos, where he had enjoyed commercial success.
Antonis also lived according to principles and values. He was distinguished by compassion and kindness to those that were weak. Selfishness and prejudice were beyond him.
When he fell ill he had as his support his faith in Christ and his love for his family. I never heard him complain. To grumble. To express disappointment.
He ‘left’ relatively young. But he is – and will be – always with us.
My father, a man of wisdom, generosity, and love, Mr. Stamatis, and Antonis have passed away. They live this Memorial Day and every day because the spirit of their lives is still part of our lives. They will live as long as we live, because they lived their lives with purpose, principles, and values.
They did not live only for themselves.
They lived for their families, their friends, their fellow human beings.
That is why their memory will last forever.