135 – May 15
“The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”—Gaylord Nelson
Some of your goals may not be accomplished in your lifetime. But they are worth your effort, nonetheless. They are your gift to those that follow you. Likewise, it is important that we honor those who came before us, and gave us gifts through great sacrifices of their own. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked tirelessly, all their lives, for women to have the right to vote, but died before the amendment was added to our Constitution. Were it not for them, half the citizens of the United States would have no say in our government.
But without the early patriots, we wouldn’t have a government. I visited Philadelphia and wandered around the city, looking at all the memorials and monuments. I stood in the room where the Declaration of Independence was written and tried to imagine the warm breath of the patriots there, who created a new nation out of their best ethics and beliefs. In sweat and blood they heaved forth a tiny, mewling infant country, “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
A price was paid for this child of dreams, for this “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” The signers of the birth certificate of our nation faced loss of friends, family, homes, money, businesses, and lives. The debts were collected. They paid them all.
Of all the monuments in Philadelphia, the one that touched me most, that had me in helpless tears in the middle of a bright, sunny day, was an unprepossessing bronze plaque in the center of a small park. There were no crowds gathered around it, there were no tour guides, no music; it stood alone, a silent sentinel under the limbs of a shady tree. It marked a battlefield where soldiers laid down their lives in blood and muck so that this infant country might grow and prosper. So that I might have freedom. Remember us the plaque seemed to say; we perished so that you could be free; we died so that you could vote.
And countless thousands upon thousands lie down in their wake and spend their last breaths dying hopelessly, helplessly, courageously for me. Some do not die in their body, but die in their minds or in their souls, lose their way, lose their families, lose their faith. Others die in their memories of the horrors of war. The price for freedom continues to be paid. May God bless them all, who died and died and die again. For me.
And for you. Honor those who came before you, who paid for your freedom. Vote. Pay your taxes. Honor those who come after you; what will you pay for them? Expand your vision. Run for office. Save the environment. Get involved.
Today’s Affirmation: “I honor and cherish my freedom, and those who provided it for me.”
My mom and dad married in November, 1943. Soon after that, my dad was sent by the Navy to Australia and the Philippines during World War II. After the war, he went to MIT on the GI bill, where they had me! He was a wonderful father, and everyone loved him.
Dad never could resist a good joke, even when it cost him.
Back when remote controls for TVs were new, we kids were visiting and had a family dinner around the TV with our TV trays. At one point, Dad asked Mom to change the channel, and she got up to make the switch. I turned to Dad and said, “Hey, Dad, why don’t you get a remote control?”
With that familiar twinkle in his eye, he gestured at mom and said, “I already have one!”
We all burst out laughing, and Mom, in her best insulted Mary-Tyler-Moore voice, said, “Oh, Mark!”
Of course, the next time we visited, they had a new TV with a remote control.