Monday, April 28, 2014

Remembering: A Sewol Memorial

Tour buses shuttled people to and from the Ansan Olympic Museum where there is a 24 hour mass memorial for students of nearby Danwon High School, victims of the Sewol ferry tragedy.

So many people were gathered that a maze-like line was set up for mourners to walk through in order to slow down the pace...two young boys avoided the long zig-zagged line by crouching under their umbrella until their parents looped around again.

Friends and families of all ages appeared; many with expressions of despair, yet some, like this little guy - so full of life. In many ways, I envied his ignorance.

Signs were hung along the walkway where messages and prayers could be written.  Strings of yellow remembrance ribbons lined the sidewalk as the procession trailed onward.

The flowers were gone, after thousands upon thousands had visited since first opening on Thursday, so as we entered the community center we were handed small black ribbons to lay at the "altar." Large groups gathered and a man led us in a moment of silent prayer. We followed by laying the ribbons at the foot of the memorial wall of fresh flowers and photographs. The blanket of ribbons was so deep; I wondered how many had been laid before I gently offered mine. A woman beside me wept uncontrollably. My tears streamed down in the same manner. An attendant at the exit saw my drenched cheeks and handed me clean tissues without missing a beat. I thanked her. She bowed. I bowed in return, clumsily..

I arrived at home with hours to dedicate to report card writing, lesson planning and that lingering pile of laundry that naggingly calls my name. Yet here I remain; with nothing accomplished but a heavy heart and a kindred blog post. I try to close my eyes but the faces of students are tattooed in my mind.

Lord, be here.

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