It's been nearly four years since I've driven that amazing and scenic road. Even after four visits I'll never grow tired of the view. I long for it. My little travel notebook contains my route. I was leaving Great Falls and headed to Gillette. Approaching Highway 16, my heart started racing. Running east-west between Rapid City, South Dakota and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, this is one of my favorite highways. The rock tunnels and the glittering of the Black Hills stirs my soul. I know after passing Jewel Cave I'll soon be near Custer. The past few visits I traveled to Mt. Rushmore first and then over to the Crazy Horse Memorial. But this time I wanted to see the corners differently on Hwy 244. Either way, this little stretch of road is bustling and beautiful.
Yesterday evening, when thinking of President’s Day today (remember I’m a history buff ;-), I wrote four cinquain poems that helped “frame” my thoughts. Thoughts of presidents, past and present, tended me. Immediately I also thought of Mt. Rushmore and my love for historical monuments-the meaning behind them and the tireless work of sculptors and their team. Sadly, I thought of the divisiveness in our country. To some, monuments hold truths. To some, they’re a disgrace. I can approach such places with open-mindedness of the times, fascination with the actual work, and also a sadness. I understand it all. Glittering gold can grow greed. Money will never replace the sacredness. We can’t change history. But we can learn from it, hopefully. And if we, as citizens of a huge nation filled with different beliefs, cannot visit such places with understanding and respect for others besides ourselves, we won’t be known for expanding good; our history will only be known 100 years from now wiping everything away and starting from scratch. God’s the only one that wipes out our past and gives us fresh starts. May our monuments create meaning. May our dissention develop dialogue. May our history help heal us, not haunt us, or hasten us to harbor hate.
I made it a point to stop near Chamberlain, South Dakota again. There she is. The Dignity Sculpture. This 50 ft. tall statue, designed by Dale Lamphere, was made to honor a culture I respect so much-the Lakota and Dakota people. There’s no way to describe her beauty as she stands so amazingly protecting the Missouri River. As we honor Presidents, past and present, may the founding of this country be recognized for what it was. A struggle. Every day as a citizen is a struggle. May the struggles erase complacency. May we reach across race, gender, and culture and shake a hand of a fellow citizen. On this day of great retail sales and a time off of work, may we find a way to truly understand why these holidays exist. And why do we?