As I sat through the funeral of Officer Corona, slain on the streets of my hometown just a week before, I thought about the act of remembering. Everyone who spoke that morning implored us to remember this young woman. And in their words was more than a hint of what that might mean.
Her young life, by any reckoning, was extraordinary in how she touched people, how she lived, and how she led. We do not want to forget her. But after all the services are over, after the makeshift memorial on 5th street is removed, and after all the blue ribbons come down–by hand or by wind and weather–how can we remember this unique life?
The hint I heard on Friday morning is that we can remember Ms. Corona by living out, together, in our community, the best of who she was. This is how we remember.
To remember is to act on memories. It is a liturgy to those who are gone.
In this sense, a remembrance, a true one, must move beyond fading recollections to daily acts that form us to be certain kinds of people, and keep the person who is no longer with us, “with” us–before us, present in the day to day.
It is only thus that we immortalize that which is mortal.
And, from what I heard, Natalie Corona is someone we should desire to immortalize.
There is a local columnist who, from time to time, prods our small city to come up with a motto. He often jests but there is a point. A motto, according to the dictionary is “a short sentence or phrase chosen as encapsulating the beliefs or ideals guiding an individual, family, or institution.” I could propose that we take what we have learned of Officer Corona and use it to create our City’s motto. Unfortunately, what we learned is far too much to contain in a sentence or phrase.
So, I would propose, instead of a motto, an aspirational statement our City can adopt to lay out what we desire to be. In this way we keep Natalie in our hearts, in our lives, and in our actions.
The following is based on what I heard on Friday morning, cast as a statement of who we want to be:
The City of Davis is
- a city that serves
- a city that always smiles
- a city that is the first to arrive in a time of need, and the last to leave
- a city of youthful energy
- a city that works tirelessly to create a welcome place and safety for everyone.
Stay with us Natalie, in the words we speak and in the acts we undertake.