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Real Answers™
dl145
Copyright: © 2009 Donald E. Lindman
580 words

OUR LEGACY:  MAUSOLEUMS OR CHANGED LIVES

By: Don Lindman

The controversial 71-year old junior senator from Illinois, Roland Burris, has built an impressive mausoleum in which his mortal remains are to be placed. 

Carved into one wall of the granite structure is the word “Trailblazer,” and under it a listing of his accomplishments.  Some are fairly trivial, but the list includes his term as state attorney general and three terms as state comptroller. 

Burris was the first African-American elected to state office in Illinois, and that accomplishment is on the wall as well. There still is room for the newest title: United States Senator.

Burris isn’t the only public figure to try to immortalize himself through an impressive stone monument.  The ancient world was full of such structures.  Burris’ tomb reportedly isn’t even among the top 10 most imposing grave sites in Chicago’s Oak Wood Cemetery.

Most of us are concerned at some point in our lives about leaving a legacy so future generations will remember we were here.  The legacy can range all the way from the granite monument to the lives of our children.  It may involve our name on an award or a building, a fading newspaper clipping that praises us, a building on which we worked as a carpenter, or a host of other things.  Many of us now are writing memoirs.

We leave behind these memories for a variety of reasons, but among them is a desire to be remembered and acclaimed by those who follow.   

The irony of this is that once Burris’ remains are deposited in his mausoleum he will not be able to enjoy the attention.  Elaborate grave markers exist to impress those who come later.  Unfortunately, the deceased person is past the point of knowing that it’s even going on.  She may be in Heaven or in Hell, or if the atheists are right she just doesn’t exist any longer.  But conscious of people admiring her life?  Hardly.

Jesus said that “whoever wants to become great among you must become your servant,” and when you give to charity “do not announce it with trumpets,” but do it “in secret.”  He raises this question: do we memorialize ourselves in structures of stone or in the lives of people whom we have helped in the name of Jesus?

Amy Syndicate columnist Greg Asimakoupoulos visited a cemetery in Connecticut, looking for the grave of Fanny Crosby, the legendary 19th century Christian who wrote the lyrics to over 8500 gospel songs, many of which are still used and loved today.  She was one of the great Christian song-writers of history.  Among her works are such favorites as “Blessed Assurance,” “To God Be the Glory,” “Rescue the Perishing,” and “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross.”

Also in that cemetery are the graves of P.T. Barnum, the legendary circus impresario, and Tom Thumb, one of his feature attractions.  Asimakoupoulos couldn’t miss them; each was marked by a 20 foot marble monolith and long statements announcing their greatness. 

Some 50 yards away was a simple headstone that read: “Aunt Fanny: She did what she could.”  She did, indeed!

I feel quite confident that Fanny Crosby doesn’t have any need for an elaborate monument proclaiming her greatness.  She’s getting much greater on-going recognition in heaven, a recognition that will still be there long after granite mausoleums have crumbled.

As Asimakoupoulos noted, “You really can’t measure a person’s greatness by the size of a gravestone.  What matters most is the degree to which we impact the lives of those who survive us.”

 

"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091; amyfoundtn@aol.com

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