In order to defy some millennial stereotypes, I decided to hold a vigil at a stranger’s grave. This experience gave me the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and think about a complete stranger and his life. This life experience also helped me realize that I am not too busy to deal with life’s issues, helped me think about history, and helped me defy the stereotypes that millennials care about nothing but themselves.
Some claim that millennials do not know history. One reason might be that millennials have grown up with Google in our pockets. Whenever something is mentioned that we do not know or want to find out more about, we can simply pull out our phones and say, “OK Google.” In my own case, I was able to retain my knowledge of history and apply it not only to my life, but to that of Mr. Reece C. Bowen (1901-1977).
I picked this grave because it is from the early 1900s. While there, I could not help but think of the life this person lived. Additionally, the gravestone was inscribed “There will be peace in the valley,” which made me think about everything this person lived through. Would he be disappointed to see all of the wars still going on? Did he believe that peace was truly possible?
While performing the graveside vigil, I came upon the startling realization that I made time in my crazy, stress-inducing schedule to talk to a dead stranger. Many people use the excuse “I’m too busy” for just about everything. From exercise to reading, this excuse is there every step of the way. People tend to think that their lives are too busy to add extra things to their schedules; this leads to the infamous “I’m too busy to do that” or “I can’t do that today, but I can start tomorrow.” More often than not, people forget about tasks rather than actually doing them.
Additionally, many millennials use this excuse when they do not really care about whatever task it is they have to do. This is why members of older generations decided to label this generation as lazy. If I was able to escape college life for an hour on a chilly, rainy day, people can step away from reality for just a little bit to focus more on others.
Performing a vigil for a complete stranger was a humbling experience. I sometimes have trouble looking at an issue from someone else’s point of view, yet I had no problem looking at life from Mr. Bowen’s point of view. He grew up in an era riddled with terrible wars and conflicts, for during his time on this planet, he lived through two World Wars, the Great Depression, and wars associated with communism. Maybe that is why “peace” is the center of the gravestone.
Mr. Bowen was more than likely drafted into war as soon as he turned the right age, and that is how he spent his life–being a pawn in someone else’s war. What really makes Mr. Bowen so amazing is the fact that after all of the wars he had been through, he still thought peace was possible. Every time I think of him, my mind goes to “There will be peace in the valley.”
Someday, I hope to be as optimistic about life as Mr. Bowen.