The Questions We Ask When We Want To Remember.

Hurricane Sandy Flooding Avenue C 2012

“Time will magnify whatever you do. So even in the smallest matters, do what is right. — Ralph Marston

39 days ago, Hurricane Sandy hit New York City.

It came. It flooded.

But now the city — Manhattan, at least — is back to normal. Next week, I’ll grab the keys to a New York apartment. It’s three blocks from the area that was evacuated during the storm, and a quarter mile from the power plant explosion that knocked out power to half the city.

You’d never even know. I was there last week, and the neighborhood looked totally normal. Five weeks changes a lot.

Time has a way of doing that. It’s been 1 year, 6 months and 15 days since the Joplin tornados. It’s been 7 years, 3 months and 1 day since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.

And there’s this: Tomorrow, we’ll recognize the 71st anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

Of course, we won’t be talking about Sandy or Joplin or Katrina tomorrow. We’ll be talking about what happened that day in 1941 in Hawaii.

But here’s what I find most interesting: On big anniversaries, we always seem to ask the same question: How do we remember? We talk about what happened that day. We interview those who were there.

But I’m not so sure we’re asking the right questions.

I’d rather ask:

Why do we remember?
What did we learn?
What do we know now?

We focus so much on the date itself, but on anniversaries, it’s often what’s changed since that really matters.

If we really want to remember, we need to ask better questions. I know that’s what they’ve done in Biloxi, Joplin and Hawaii. I hope it’s what they’re doing in my new neighborhood in New York.

It’s the way we get better.

That photo of flooding in my new neighborhood comes via David Shankbone.