Over the weekend our son invited my husband and me to visit and to bike ride into Washington DC to see the cherry blossoms. It was a fun day. The weather was fantastic- almost too warm too quickly - sunny, warm with a breeze. (I know, I mustn't complain after the dreary cold days that we have had.) The blossoms were full out, leaning a little more on the other side of their peak but still full and beautiful.
As to be expected, the tidal basin and the surrounding mall and area were mobbed. Coming into DC through a Virginia bike trail brought us upon the FDR memorial. I have been to many places in DC but never there. It is across the tidal basin from the MLK memorial and the Jefferson Memorial. It was designed in the 70's but only received money from Congress to build it in 1997. It is an open design of four "rooms"- each room depicting a term of President Roosevelt.
According to the information about the memorial, it was built not without controversy. The main issue was whether or not to show the President's disability (basically he was confined to a wheelchair and didn't have any use of his legs due to polio paralysis). At the time of his presidency, it was a carefully guarded secret of his inability to walk and he was not to be photographed in any compromised state. Doing so would show weakness on the part of the leader of the free world.
One statue of him has him sitting in a chair with his legs covered by a cape. Supposedly if you look at the back of the statue, the two back legs have wheels on them to depict his "wheel chair". I guess that is one way to compromise over the "disability" controversy.
But it makes me wonder what would've happened if his "weakness" was known during the thirties and forties. Would people think less of him? Would they not have voted for him? Would other leaders not respect him? Or would he receive more support? More votes? Certainly, his disability must have shaped him, his world view and his views of others. We cannot separate ourselves from our experiences and situations of life. Did it make him more compassionate and mindful of others less fortunate? Did it make him short-tempered, demanding or arrogant? I can only think that the "weakness" helped him in ways that might not be initially obvious but subtly defining his character and his decisions.
It was interesting to see the crowds at this memorial as well as the other parts of the National Mall. As is typical of modern society, the self-portraiture was rampant. Almost everyone gathered at the memorial and along the tidal basin were taking selfies: pictures of a blooming branch artistically arranged behind the photo-takers head. I guess the snaps were to provide proof to Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram that 1) they were there 2) they were able to capture their visage at that moment of time.
What about you? What would your memorial look like? How would you be portrayed? Is there a "weakness" you wouldn't want mentioned? Or, do you feel that in your weakness you have been made strong? In addition to thinking about your memorial, what would capture your image right now? Is it an unfinished portraiture? A post blooming one? A controversial one? An image of peace and tranquility?
I would hope my "memorial" would include my weaknesses, my strengths, my authenticity and above all my humanity.