Katie’s Musings: Legacy
January 19 2017
I remember the date because it was my Grandpa’s 93rd birthday that day, and when it’s your WWII vet Grandpa’s birthday and you are stuck in DC overnight because of a snowstorm in Chicago, and you’re faced with a free-but-rainy afternoon near the National Mall, what else can you do but make your way to the WWII memorial and take pictures for him? I’d brought a giant umbrella with me and a change of shoes, and to be honest, I really love the rain, so I found a free map and headed in the direction of the memorial.
And as I stared into his face, I thought a thought I’ve often thought when looking a depictions of people chosen for immortality by our society: did he know? As he was writing his speeches and making the unenviable yet inevitable decisions of a war-torn country, lying in his bed trying to sleep at night, eating his lunch and playing with his kid, contemplating the intricacies of foreign relations and writing letters to the mothers of dead soldiers, attempting to navigate being simultaneously savior of the Union and a mere human being who puts on his pants the same as everyone else does… did he know? Could he have known? Could he possibly have had any concept of the impact of his actions? The legacy he would leave behind?
Or maybe did he long, quietly and secretly, for the old days, back when life was simpler and slavery was a looked-over reality, and no new thing or idea or way of being was threatening everything he held near and dear? Did he wish he’d just hung out in Illinois and been a lawyer after all, lived a life that was quieter?
And did he… could he have had any concept of who “Abraham Lincoln” would become after his death?
And really… do any of us?
But a truth does remain, stalwart and reliable: it has always and will always bend, eventually and ultimately, toward justice for all humankind.
At least, that’s what I think.