Lots of parents have used that phrase with their children: “Remember who you are.”
This is not just good advice for teens. These are words of wisdom for all of us no matter what our age and no matter what circumstances in which we find ourselves.
In his book, Fiasco, Thomas Ricks relates that during a time of rising casualties during the U.S. occupation of Iraq, Capt. William Ponce sent out an e-mail to other officers which stated: “The gloves are coming off regarding these detainees...we want these individuals broken...Casualties are mounting and we need to start gathering info to help protect our fellow soldiers from any further attacks.” He asked them for their “wish list” of “interrogation techniques.” He received quite a few suggestions involving physical abuse, including electrocution.
One exception was the response received from a major with the 501st Military Intelligence Battalion (his name as well as those of other respondents has been deleted in released official documents). He wrote: “We need to take a deep breath and remember who we are… It comes down to standards of right and wrong---something we cannot just put aside when we find it inconvenient, any more than we can declare that we will ‘take no prisoners’ and therefore shoot those who surrender to us simply because we find prisoners inconvenient… We have taken casualties in every war we have ever fought---that is part of the very nature of war… That in no way justifies letting go of our standards… Casualties are part of war---if you cannot take casualties then you cannot engage in war. Period. The “BOTTOM LINE,” he wrote emphatically was “We are American soldiers, heirs of a long tradition of staying on the high ground. We need to stay there.” His e-mail signature ended with a reference to “Psalm 24:3-8,” which begins “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart.” Sadly, his advice was not taken. We have all lived to regret it.
One of the reasons we come to church is so that we can remember who we are and whose we are. We are children of God. We are those for whom Christ died. Let us not forget it. Remember who you are!
©2006 C. David Hess