Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Lessons of Memorials

Memorials remind us of what we value. They preserve memories of heroes or moments that changed history. This past week I ran on a trail alongside the Potomac River. As I ran, I could see the dome of the U.S. Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the Jefferson Memorial on the side of the river. George Washington's courage and dedication to his people still resonate today. Jefferson's writings still inspire. I walked the halls of a building whose walls feature paintings and plaques that describe heroic acts by American military personnel. I stood in a room and read the names of men and women who died suddenly as a terrorist-piloted airplane plowed through that building at that very spot. That tragedy and other similar events the same day shocked our nation and changed our attitudes toward liberty and security. The memorial, however, speaks to the loss of human beings who were dearly loved and highly valued by their co-workers and families. I said a prayer for those families as I stood there. These memorials challenge me to treasure each day and to use those days more wisely. They tell stories of pain and terrorism overcome by courageous acts and a determined spirit. They remind that tragedy scars the soul even as it strengthens the survivor. Our decisions and our actions lay foundation for memorials to our lives. What lessons will your memorial teach?

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