Two months ago I walked through the 9/11 Memorial created at the World Trade Center site. The central features are two large square pools built on the footprints of the original Twin Towers. Water flows over the four sides into seemingly bottomless pools.
On top and around each pool are bronze plates with the names of the almost 3,000 people who died that day. The names are organized the way the deceased were together at the time of the attack. All of the United passengers and crew are side-by-side on plaques. The names of persons in the building are organized by the office in which they were working.
The names represent nationalities from all parts of the world, reminding us that losses were worldwide. Some are followed by Jr., II, or III and even an Esq. here and there.
Among these names one engraving stands out: Rahme Salie and her unborn child. It’s a name that reminds us the tragedy affected not only the victims on that day but also future generations, even those unnamed.
Many experience Memorial Day as a time to recall past heroic events. While these are not to be forgotten, they matter today because we are heirs of the future, which motivates sacrifice especially in wartime.
Pointing to and creating better futures is one of the unique features of cooperative design. Sometimes we talk about credit unions as family. Family means more than relationships. It means we all came from somewhere and want our children to enjoy the fruits of our labors.
Many credit unions are now 50 or 75 years old. Four are more than 100 years old. Credit unions create capabilities and resources that serve not only current members but also future ones – even unborn generations.
While Rahme Salie’s unnamed child reminds us of a global tragedy, we must not forget people today work in a variety of circumstances, some heroic and some more prosaic, for a better tomorrow.
That commitment to a vision and the costs sometimes required to achieve it is why Memorial Day is a holiday. That hope, as well as the remembering, is what makes credit unions special on this and every other day.