Renewal and Remembrance – A Ritual of Respect

My first experience participating in PLANET’s Renewal and Remembrance this year was  memorable, but not for the reasons I had expected.  There were no moments when I was overcome by emotion.  Though I did develop a greater respect for humanity and what it means to me, which I imagine is different for all of us, including the families who have loved ones buried at Arlington.

Arlington National Cemetery

If you take a moment to observe the tombstones at Arlington National, you will notice they represent people from all walks of life – mostly service men and women, but some spouses and children too.  There are  monuments which are much larger than the others, some worn from years of exposure, but for the most part they are all predominantly the same, especially when you observe from a distance.

When I was planting trees with our team, it occurred to me that we too were predominantly the same.  That is to say we were all working on the same level – PLANET members, their employees, spouses, and children too.   There were no supervisors watching over us  – just a group of people working together, if only for a brief – yet beautiful summer morning.

Color Guard

There is a quality about each of us that makes us more the same than different, regardless of where we come from, what we do, or how we have lived or will die.   That’s what I took away from Renewal and Remembrance.  I’m wondering why we cannot appreciate that more now while we are here, instead of waiting until a life has passed.

The answer is as simple as having an annual event like Renewal and Remembrance that brings people together for a common purpose.  That higher value purpose allows us to set aside differences.  How it works to accomplish this is through the power of rituals.  Rituals are important.  They trap your attention, which allows you to both remember and forget.  For a handful of hours at Arlington National Cemetery we allowed ourselves to forget the current economic conditions, or whatever may have been weighing on our minds.  As a result, we remembered, appreciated, and developed a greater respect for  the contribution each of us makes together in a spirit of cooperation.

I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of rituals and how they can be used in a business context.  This is outside of the scope of this post, but if you are interested in learning more, I’ll be exploring it further on the blog http://jeffkorhan.com no later than first thing Monday morning.

One ritual I have to  share with you in this post is a short video of PLANET member Nanette Seven and her daughters Isabel and Nicole laying the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown solider.   Here’s the link:

Wreath Laying at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

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