ON MY MIND: Inspiration through the ages

On My Mind | Maureen Burns

I just returned from a trip to Washington, D.C. I have been there many times, but am still overwhelmed by it all.

My daughter, Donna, and I spent Sunday at the Holocaust museum and then walked around the blooming cherry blossoms to see the new national monuments. Though not new to the world, they were new to us. We had never seen some of them and were inspired.

One could write volumes on what inspires people in Washington, D.C. There is almost no end to it.

Let me share a couple that inspired me this time.

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial shows him rising out of stone. It is enormous. It reads “out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” Other quotes line the surrounding walls. One I loved was “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” These are words that are important today.

I had never seen the Franklin Delano Roosevelt National Monument. It is huge and sprawls on and on. Some trivia: Did you know he was the first president to fly in a plane?

The quote I loved from his monument is this. “In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of social justice . . . the path of faith, the path of hope, and the path of love toward our fellow man.” Though spoken by FDR in 1932, it is certainly applicable to Americans today.

I had also not seen the World War II Memorial that was dedicated in 2005. In a previous column I wrote about my Uncle Bill who was taken by the government to see this memorial and be honored with other WWII veterans. One quote I was touched by was “… even against the greatest of odds, there is something in the human spirit — a magic blend of skill, faith and valor — that can lift men from certain defeat to incredible victory.” This magic blend is applicable today as we face our tough issues personally and nationally.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum never fails to shock me. This was the first time my daughter had visited it. There is so much to see and read and learn. It is impossible to witness it and not be touched deeply, even if you have been there before.

George H.W. Bush said about it, “Each of us bears responsibility for our actions and for our failure to act. We must intervene when we see evil arise. We will learn more about the moral compass by which we navigate our lives and by which countries will navigate the future.”

I suppose most readers have been to our nation’s capitol. But, some of you may have not. Perhaps you can plan it into your near future. If you do, give yourself time to see as much as you can. And even if you do that, know there will be plenty for you to see on returning visits.

We had the privilege of seeing many of the top historical spots in Europe when we lived in Spain. They were full of wonder. But when we first visited Washington, D.C., I felt like the United States also had an incredible amount of wonder to offer. Now, returning one more time, the experience just gets greater — awe, wonder, splendor and pride in our great country.

If we take some of these words to heart, we can feel inspiration for our daily lives, for our faith-filled missions and in our quests to make a difference in our world. Truly, as the MLK Jr. Memorial says, “out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope” and at the Holocaust Museum, “What you do matters.” Words to live by, indeed.

Maureen Burns, a Greenville resident, is a professional speaker and author. Her e-mail address is maureenburns@maureenburns.com.

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