Two days ago, millions of Americans commemorated the anniversary of the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor that propelled the U.S. into World War II. Millions more stop to remember the September 11 attacks, and smaller remembrances of historic events take place year-round. Why? Why do we commemorate past events so passionately? Is it artificial patriotism or wallowing in drama, or are we satisfying some fundamental need?
I think we're assuaging a hunger for perspective, something that's sorely needed in many organizations. Most commemorative actions have some common elements: a reflective pause, silent gratitude, and a meditation on how far we've come. In other words, we stop for a moment and take in the big picture. We lift our eyes from the desk, computer screen, textbook or road and for a moment, see the larger narrative that's playing out around us-that we're part of.
Story and narrative are integral parts of any organization, including a country. Commemorative days or celebrations remind us that we are all part of that story...and that we all play a part in shaping what happens next. For people in a busy organization, that can be a powerful reminder of the impact of their actions and the common bond they share.
What are the commemorations that hold the greatest meaning for you?