The stark reality of the Lincoln years do not fade away; the statue of the man decreases with the distance as we walk away. But the magnitude of his contributions to our nation do not. We approach the Jefferson Memorial.
Again our conversation moves to how we honor the past and recognize the lessons the past holds for us in the fast-moving-digital present, let alone the future.
When the cherry trees that surround the Tidal Basin are in bloom, it is a magnificent sight. The Jefferson Memorial rests on the south bank of the Basin. The neo-classical structure of the Memorial adds to the beauty of the place. As we climb the broad steps to the portico, we turn to marvel again at the reflections of the cherry blossoms on the water. We enter the dome of the monument to find ourselves surrounded by the words of Thomas Jefferson, the president, the architect, inventor, musician, and writer.
We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So avows our Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson was 33 when he authored this document.
We read on. Though there has been much effort to minimize the Christian beliefs of Thomas Jefferson, we see much evidence to the contrary. He was a strong advocate for religious freedom. He took great pride in authorship of The Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom passed in January, 1786. The Memorial reminds us: Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free, that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishment or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to…
As we stand in the memorial, the words of the third President are etched in the marble. Jefferson’s words need to ring out again in our nation each year the cherry blossoms return to adorn the Tidal Basin and add extraordinary elegance to the beautiful edifice, the Jefferson Memorial.
May the return of the cherry blossoms each spring be a visible reminder of Jefferson’s words: we hold these truths to be self evident…
We descend the wide steps from the portico and breathe in the beauty of the cherry-blossom-lined Tidal Basin. Jefferson would approve of the site. His home, his beloved Monticello, was a beautiful result of his architectural skills. But his real passion was to give shape, substance, and essence to freedom for all in the new nation he was helping to bring into existence–this one-of-a-kind experiment known as our United States of America.