Observing from beyond the solar system, a cultural outsider looks in.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cherry Blossom Meditation

Last week was the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC. On Thursday, I took the opportunity to go and visit the Jefferson Memorial, which I had never seen, and see the Roosevelt Memorial a second time.

My walk around the tidal basin with the flowering trees in glorious bloom was like a springtime meditation on renewal for our country, as my visits to the memorials of two of our greatest presidents reminded me once again that we need visionary leadership that remembers that we have freedoms and rights and value as individuals.

With a scarcity of leadership on the national horizon, the leaders we seek may indeed be us, so I leave you to ponder some of the words of Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt and what it will take to bring positive new growth and renewal in the United States.

God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free. Establish the law for educating the common people. This is the business of the state to effect and on a general plan.

- Thomas Jefferson, quoted on the monument

I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind, as that becomes more developed and more enlightened. As new discoveries are made, new truths discovered, and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

-Thomas Jefferson, quoted on the monument

Almighty God hath created the mind free. All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens -- are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion -- no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matter of religion. I know but one code of morality for men whether acting singly or collectively.

-Thomas Jefferson, quoted on the monument

We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men. We ... solemnly publish and declare, that these colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states...and for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour.

-Declaration of Independence, written by Jefferson and quoted on the monument.

Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Worship
Freedom from Want
Freedom from Fear

-Roosevelt's 4 Freedoms, quoted on his monument

The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.

-FDR, quoted on his monument.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

-FDR, quoted on his monument.

No country, however rich, can afford the waste of its human resources. Demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatest extravagance. Morally, it is the greatest menace to our social order.

-FDR, quoted on his monument.

The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man or one party, or one nation...It must be a peace which rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world.

I am thinking the above quote is Eleanor Roosevelt since it's next to a statue of her, but I don't know for sure.

Unless the peace that follows recognizes that the whole world is one neighborhood, and does justice to the whole human race, the germs of another world war will remain as a constant threat to mankind.

More than an end to war, we want an end to the beginnings of all wars.

-FDR, quoted on his monument.

They (who) seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers, call this a new order. It is not new and it is not order.

-FDR, quoted on his monument.

We must scrupulously guard the civil rights and civil liberties of all citizens, whatever their background. We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization.

-FDR, quoted on his monument.

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.

-FDR, quoted on his monument.

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.

-FDR, quoted on his monument.

I think I'm going to make it a spring tradition to go visit Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Roosevelt every year as long as I live in this area. The nearby "Tulip Library" is also lovely...

More photos here.

Please use this as an open thread to discuss what this country needs or anything else that comes to mind.

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Blogger Pat said...

Hi - Thanks for sharing photos! I wanted to surprise my family this Spring and visit DC when cherry trees were in full bloom. Beside being too busy, I wasn't sure when to plan the visit. I'll mark the calendar for next year. Is mid-April typically when this occurs?

May 01, 2008

Blogger AstroGirl said...

I think so. I haven't lived here for too long, so I'm not sure, but I think it's usually in early to mid-April.

May 02, 2008


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