Paying It Forward

Earlier this month, I was on my way to the library with a stack of UN Archives request forms, to take the final step of entering the data into the computer and sending it to the archivists in New York. I stopped to pick up coffee and chocolate at the little grocery and met a friend there, a poet, who has been following the news of the investigation about Dag Hammarskjold, so I showed him what I was doing. Then he asked me – What is the story to you? What are the lessons you have learned in all this? I’ve been thinking about that a lot, since I am at a crossroads with where I am going next, but I will try to answer.

What I have learned from Vlado is that love gives us the courage to take risks, and that we must take risks to make peace in this world. Vlado lost everything – his home, his country, his nationality, and he was separated from his friends and family for long periods of time. From the age of 25 until his death at age 40, his home, his family, his tribe was the United Nations, and his gave all his heart and mind to it. He worked hard, not only because of his personal integrity and strong ethic, but because he needed to belong to a tribe who encouraged him to take risks for peace. He was just so joyful in everything he did – even in his letters of complaints he seems to be enjoying himself – his pluck has inspired me to be happy in everything I do.

Hammarskjold wrote “Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for.” It was out of gratitude for what was given to me, and a need for friends to share this story with, that made me start writing here, back in March 2013. Above all, this blog has been a goodwill effort towards the family members of all those who died in Ndola for peace, to the ideals of the United Nations, to the people of Africa and the world, and every single person that has contributed in some part in holding up the memory of Hammarskjold with their research, everything I’ve learned has come from their devotion to his memory. And to all the kind friends who have reached out to me in generosity – thank you for all that you’ve taught me, for inspiring me to keep writing and learning, and for this time when I’ve felt part of something bigger than myself.

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