Back in 1986 when the Legion observed it’s sixtieth anniversary of it’s formation it used the tagline “Pride in Our Past, Faith in Our Future”. It’s a phrase that has always stayed with me. I’ve been a strong believer that in remembering and even understanding our past, we can feel some confidence about facing what is to come.
The tagline was a nostalgic look back on where the Legion had been at a time when membership was beginning to struggle as our WW1, WW2 and Korea veterans died. So why would the Legion look back at that time? Were they trying to cling to the past?
Some might have thought so but it wasn’t the intent. Nostalgia can evoke a very positive sense of well being making it a good marketing tactic. The good feeling about the past can move a person to want to be part of the present.
Traditions are reminders of our past. Carrying them on is one of the foundations of the Legion, it’s brings the past into the present. It reminds us even as things change, they are threads which remain the same, binding the past to the present and the future.
I’ve never thought of myself as a nostalgic person for the most part. When I pay attention to what I talk about, I tend to share stories from the past a lot in conversations. For the most part, I tend to be selective about what I share, they are usually good stories.
So, I guess, while it’s not something I’m really aware of, nostalgia is something I do engage in. Usually those stories are triggered by something in conversation.
There are other triggers for people to slip into nostalgia even if they don’t really think of it as being nostalgic.
Certain foods can trigger you to remember specific events in your life or take you back to a different time in the past. In many ways, traditional foods at holidays are about remembering the past, tying today with yesterday as a continuous thread in our lives.
If I was to try a really well prepared pecan pie, it would likely remind me of the awesome pecan pies my dad used to make. That he would make them in 4” pie plates because I didn’t want to have an 8” pie sitting on my counter summoning me to come and eat it.
For many, music transports them instantly to another time and space. It’s interesting of all the stimuli, it’s music which seems to speak to people who suffer from dementia. The person might not be responsive to someone speaking to them but will respond to music. The sounds will spark an almost involuntary response. Seems there is something almost primal about music.
Certain piano music will remind me of my grandmother’s talent at playing the piano. Her reticence to play for others and the memories of the times I got her to play on the pretence of her showing me something on the piano that I was trying to learn.
The “Flight of the Bumblebee” will instantly remind me of the evening my then 93 year old grandmother sat down at an electronic keyboard, played around for a little bit to get the feel of how it worked and launched into making the keyboard sing with that piece. She had me in shock, it was amazing to listen to.
Even if we’re not aware of it, we’re constantly changing — our ideas, thoughts and even our cells. Nostalgia reminds us of who we have been and who we are now. Who we were and who we are is what moves us forward into the future.
So, have pride in your past and faith in your future. If you think you lack that faith, engage in some nostalgia, celebrate the victories of your past to prepare you for your future.