Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Final Tribute

Today marks the end of November and the final day of my Korean War Veterans Memorial retrospective.

Critics of monuments, such as this one, often claim that erecting war memorials celebrates -- and encourages -- the violence, death and destruction of war. I disagree. One day, I hope to live in a world where people will make peace and not war, a world where we resolve our conflicts with words and not weapons. But, this world does not exist yet. Until that peaceful day, we will still need people to serve and protect our freedoms and borders. It's their duty and sacrifice we celebrate and honor in these memorials. They are physical reminders of the price of war, the cost of peace through violence.

Soon a new national monument will be dedicated on the National Mall in honor of the nonviolence civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. One of my favorite of Dr. King's speeches was his last. He delivered it in Memphis the night before his assassination. His closing words have always stayed with me:
Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
Dr. King was right; we will get to "the promised land," a world of peace. I hope that it will be in my lifetime, or at least in my children's lifetime. Let these monuments remind and encourage us to get to this promised land sooner rather than later.

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