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For those who love research as much as I do, you may enjoy this talk show.  My next visit to D.C., I’m definitely including a visit to the National Archives to my itinerary.

It’s not uncommon for a grandchild to assist in healing a grandparent’s painful past. It could be re-establishing an old relationship, locating missing documents, or even embarking on a diplomatic mission on behalf of a deceased grandparent.

For example, take Clifton Truman Daniel, President Harry S. Truman’s grandson. He visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not to apologize for his grandfather’s atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, but to be an ambassador, of sorts, of reconciliation and healing.

Photo credit: Matthew M. Burke/Stars and Stripes

Understandably, anger remains in Japan, and some Americans believe that Truman may have had other options. However, there are American service members who believe lives were spared as a result of the bombing, and point out that twelve Americans were killed in the bombing as well.

During Daniel’s visit, he was presented with a small plastic bag containing tree seeds which had fallen from trees which had surviving the bombing, to be planted around the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. A three-term former mayor of Hiroshima subsequently visited the Truman Library.

Daniel plans on writing a book detailing the bombings, his grandfather’s rationale for them, and how survivors moved forward.

If discord exists in your family due to a historical event in which a senior family member – living or deceased – played a part, you have an opportunity to research the backstory leading up to the event, which may have impacted ultimate decisions. Presenting it from an objective point of view has the potential of healing generations, and allowing the future to move forward.

It seems that retailers, in a rush to sell, sell, sell for Christmas, bury Thanksgiving Day under Christmas musak starting early November,  and layering with the top soil of Black Friday.

Although President George Washington issued a proclamation in 1789 citing November 26th as an official holiday of “sincere and humble thanks,” it was President Abraham Lincoln who proclaimed Thanksgiving Day a national holiday in 1863 – in the midst of the Civil War.  It is, therefore, appropriate that Spielberg’s film, “Lincoln,” be released this week.  (You can view President Lincoln’s actual proclamation on-line courtesy of The National Archives:

My childhood Thanksgivings were spent at my grandparents’ place, where I enjoyed two traditions.  First, was watching my grandmother smack my dad’s hand when he tried to sneak a couple of olives before dinner was served.  Second, was watching my grandfather lob dinner rolls across the table, instead of passing the basket around, just to annoy my grandmother.

And, of course, there arrived that grand day when I was “promoted” from the child’s table.

With the sunrise, an unspoken, respectful tone permeated their home, historically created with love, and memories.  Thanksgiving was imbued with a deep, rich, ambiance.

It was a similar tone that Lincoln wanted to provide; a respite from the bitterness and anger amongst citizens, and families, during a tumultuous time in this country’s history.  This day has been set aside to reflect on our gifts; whether you spend the day with friends, families, or solitarily; dine on turkey, ham, or vegan.

The world is a living, breathing, cornucopia of accessibly interesting places, people, and stories.

For that, I am truly grateful.

Last month commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  (

I was five years old during this frightening time in our country’s history.  I asked my father if he remembered it.

“I remember it very well,” he responded.  “I had a basketball game that night, and was standing in the living room watching Kennedy give his speech, thinking I could lose my home, my wife and kids.  Everything I knew and love could disappear.  Well, might as well get a game in.”

Do you or someone in your family have a particular memory about this historical event?

Sometimes, sharing your story can be a very powerful healing tool.  Fr. Michael Lapsley taps into that tool to help those struggling with incredibly painful memories.

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