The last best hope
“The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation…We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best, hope of earth.” — Abraham Lincoln
First time visitors to Washington DC often notice that the various monuments located near the mall appear much closer to each other on the maps than they prove to be when strolling between them. It’s an activity best suited to those who are able to walk at least a few miles, and is definitely more appealing in good weather.
Despite the inconvenience of having to cross a lot of terrain to get to these memorials, there’s something fitting about the distances between them. Walking is conducive to the sober reflection that properly accompanies the history represented by such iconic sights. It’s far too easy to forget the suffering and sacrifices of people who came before us, caught up as we are in daily concerns that seem petty compared to the endurance required of past generations.
I like to read and remember history when I’m feeling sorry for myself. It gives me perspective on my individual woes, gratitude for all that I tend to take for granted, and inspiration from the perseverance and courage shown by people who have survived far more cataclysmic times. I hope you will make time to visit a nearby memorial, or read a biography or history of some pivotal moment in the past. Those who came before us were far from perfect, but there is much to honor and celebrate in their stories, which made possible our own.
One year ago today: