I spent three full days with 18 students, 11-year-old 5th graders, on a class trip to our Nation’s Capital, Washington D.C. It’s been 30 years since my school trip and as an adult and Dad the trip was very special.
Many times I was moved to tears that I quickly wiped away, not wanting others to see. Someday, I hope, the students will share the feelings I had. This time it seemed that they were more interested in getting to the next exhibit, eating, or shopping at the gift shop.
I had mixed emotions of sadness, thankfulness, and pride. So many people sacrificed their lives so we could enjoy the freedoms and prosperity we sometimes take for granted living in the United States of America.
One thought kept coming to mind. Many of the people we learned about in the trip; Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and others were people with ideas. Revolutionary ideas. These ideas were expressed in words and written in documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The words were backed by actions and the actions inspired others. Here’s an example of how George Washington inspired another man to take action for his country.
Our last stop was at George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon. In the hallway of the mansion, mounted on a wall is a key to the Bastille. The Bastille was long used as a political prison in France. The beginning of the French Revolution was marked by the destruction of this prison. Marquis de Lafayette, who had served under Washington in the Revolutionary War, sent the key to Washington in 1790 with this message:
“It is a tribute, which I owe, as a son to my adoptive father, as an Aide – de – Camp to my General, as a Missionary of liberty to its Patriarch.” –Marquis de Lafayette
I just love how Lafayette refers to Washington the “Patriarch of Liberty” and how Lafayette is one of its missionaries.
“Freedom is not Free”, those words are carved in the stone walls of the Korean War Memorial. As I read those words standing in the dimly lit rainy night, I was reminded that we are the home of the free because we are the home of the brave. This year, Memorial Day will have greater meaning for me. I hope it will for you as well.
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