The Longest Night (Part 2)

23 Dec

…Continued from Part 1

December 21, 2011: Hartford Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day Service

Two weeks after the Peter’s Retreat Memorial Service, I attended a memorial service for people without a home who died in the past year. Each December, Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day is held on the first day of winter which heralds the year’s longest night. The service was very eclectic and inclusive as was emphasized in the opening words by Rabbi Donna Berman. She told a story about joining with representatives of many other faiths to provide a memorial service for an anonymous homeless man who had passed away. Since nobody knew what faith the homeless man belonged to, they put together a service that would hopefully do justice to his beliefs.

The Hartford Homeless Persons’ Memorial Service also featured testimonials by currently homeless individuals, poetry readings and eulogies given by writers for the Beat of the Street, a reading of names, and somber performances of Amazing Grace and Silent Night.

Another memorial service for another group of people who society keeps under a veil of anonymity. Another year’s list of people who died without a home. Another emotional performance of Amazing Grace.

I did leave the memorial service with some hope. There were many concerned people in attendance who all work hard each day on the issues of poverty, hunger, and homelessness in our community. We all want to see an end to homelessness and we all know what a terribly difficult goal that is to achieve. As a previously homeless man said (about the list of people who passed away), “We’re not going to end homelessness anytime soon, but we can hope to make this list shorter each year.”

At the blowing of the wind and the chill of winter, we remember them.

CNN won’t cover these lives during their recap of 2011 on New Year’s Eve and that terrible virus or perceived disgrace can isolate people from their loved ones to the point that their families might not take time to think of them on Christmas. During this time of year, which for many is a time of remembering those no longer here, don’t forget to remember those who we’re trained not to see.

Philip Drew – Hartford, CT


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