The diversity of our nation requires that our history be inclusive of all who have made us the great country that we are. I would also like to focus on a matter that will help our city move forward with facts and not rumors. Many us may remember a movie entitled “Back to the Future.” In the movie, after traveling back in time, the travelers found that the only way to return to the future was to recreate the system and follow the same principles that led them on the successful journey in the first place. One of their greatest challenges was recreating the speed and momentum needed for time travel.
If you continue to try to undo what’s behind you, you lose momentum moving forward. You can’t have a better tomorrow if you are thinking of yesterday all the time. There’s a driving track called an anti-skid driving course. One of the really valuable lessons to learn from it is that when you drive, you should drive with your eyes looking well ahead, maybe a couple hundred meters forward, not on the car just in front of you, and if an accident occurs you are more likely to avoid the obstacles on the road while travelling through the accident scene.
Research has discovered that those who focus on the obstacles were often found to drive straight into them. If you focus well ahead, you still see the things in front, but you see well beyond them, and the path or road ahead, as well. The pace of events in life are so fast that unless we can find some way to keep our sights on the future, we cannot expect to be in touch with what needs to be done today. We are called to be architects of the future, not victims of the past. I write this to encourage and not to discourage.
We have made great progress over the years as a city. Have there been obstacles…yes. Have there been challenges…yes. Have there been bad decisions…yes. Have there been failures…yes. But one writer said that “failure is the condiment that gives flavor to future success.”
Have we arrived…no. Will there be more challenges…yes. Will we rise to the occasion…yes. I’m an eternal optimist. We can’t make yesterday go away but we can make tomorrow better. I know that there are some well-meaning individuals who desire to undo some things and I’m not condemning their efforts, but we must continue to move forward and move forward we will. I encourage you to attend meetings, call me or call staff at City Hall to get firsthand information. Information that’s passed on often ends up like the game we played in school called “pass it on.” The first person is told, “The bridge is out and many can’t get home”…when the last person is asked what they heard they say, “The bride walked out because the groom won’t leave home.” Humorous but real.
Our city is doing well and we are going to do better. We thank all for the concerns, ideals, and passionate efforts. We want to hear about what you like and don’t like so that we will understand how to best serve you. In no way do I want to discourage any efforts or throw water on any passion, however, get facts, realizing that facts do not always contain all the truth. Thank you for your understanding.
This month we celebrate Memorial Day. Perhaps more than any other holiday this day was born of human necessity. Deep inside all of us lies a fundamental desire to make sense of life and our place in it and the world. What we have been given, what we will do with it, and what we will pass on to the next generation is all part of an unfolding history.
Abraham Lincoln pondered these thoughts in the late fall of 1863. His darkest fear was that he might well be the last president of the United States, a nation embroiled in the self destruction of what he described as “a great civil war – testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.” He began his remarks with those words as he stood on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19th of that year. The minute’s speech that became known as Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address turned into what might be called the first observance of Memorial Day. Lincoln’s purpose that day was to dedicate a portion of the battlefield as a cemetery for the thousands of men, both living and dead, who consecrated that soil in the sacrifice of battle. Said Lincoln: “That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause which they gave the last full measure of devotion…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom…”
The names of many who died in the World Wars, in the Korean War, and the Vietnam War are all listed on a memorial wall. Those whose names are on that wall gave what Lincoln called “the last, full measure of devotion” – some in wars whose purpose no one could doubt – some in wars whose purpose will never be clear, some for the folly and arrogance of the men in charge. When they fell, their deaths were a small part of a bigger story. But every Memorial Day, the lives they never got to live, and the people they left behind, are the only story that matters. This is why it matters that their names are uttered aloud before people who never knew any of them. This is why it matters that we, who enjoy the freedom for which they died, should remember them this year, and the next, and the next.
May God bless our nation and continue to prosper our city, The City of West Park.