A list of names appeared on my Facebook wall. Multicolored stars of various sizes rimmed the border. Normally, I would simply scroll past but this time, I stopped and read the names. They should have meant nothing to me. These people were not from my neighborhood; I didn’t graduate high school with any of them; our kids weren’t on the same little league teams.
No, this list was different and it sent me back to my childhood.
I grew up in an idyllic Pennsylvania community. On the edge of the woods, at the top of the hill, surrounded by three cemeteries and a convent. Summer nights were spent outside running barefoot this way and that, playing kick the can or tag until dusk. Riding my bike in the 4th of July parade, red, white, and blue streamers trailing in the wind. Participating in spontaneous watermelon seed spitting contests in the grass.
Occasionally, I would end up in the Jewish cemetery, the closest to the house, and read the engravings. I was fascinated by the tombstones with the long registers of individuals who shared the same last name. I would sit in my cutoff shorts and do the math. Some were very young, only two or three. Others were my age. But most were adults. Entire families remembered on granite slabs only a few decades after the Holocaust. Remembered by their relatives and memorialized because they mattered. And the reason for their gravesites matters.
The list of names that appeared on my Facebook wall also matters. Maybe their names will be the last list of people silenced because of hatred I’ll have to read. Probably not.
But maybe, just maybe, their names will be the be the ones to spur change. Maybe, their names will finally be the change that matters.