The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. was vandalized in the wee hours of Friday morning. Splashes of green paint were discovered all over the legs of the giant statue of our 16th president. Is nothing sacred anymore?
We aren't talking about some chalk on a sidewalk or even graffiti on a railroad car, here, folks. We're talking about a symbol of America!
Warning: I'm about to sound a good 60 years older than I actually am. Next thing you know, I'll be stocking my grocery cart with blue hair rinse and prunes.
But what happened to respect?
Respect for things that don't belong to you. Respect for the hard work of people who maintain memorials like the monument that overlooks the National Mall. Respect, gosh darnit, for America?!
The Lincoln Memorial is a tourist attraction, maintained by the National Park Service, but open to all, free of charge. It's a place where we can go to marvel at the artwork of the sculptor (his name was Daniel French, in case you're wondering) of this majestic structure and reflect on the forward-thinking of a man raised in a tiny one-room log cabin who rose to the highest office in the land. It's a place the Park Service says is symbolic of our nation and of our ideals -- that all men are created equal.
When I last stood there, I was a teenager. I was on my senior class trip, spending time doing teenage things with more than a dozen of my classmates. Still, I was awed. Still, I was moved to quiet reflection.
The Lincoln Memorial is so vast, its meaning so powerful, that its hold was impossible to deny, even as a teenager with fun on the brain.
That a person (or people) could stand in the face of something so powerful and be intent on destruction is puzzling to me. But more than that, it's sad.
It's sad that someone could not feel the overwhelming sense of good fortune we have as Americans.
The monument is being cleaned, the vandals sought. They will likely be called to pay for their crimes, but there's no way to make them feel what it is they should feel when standing there.
Check out the clean-up efforts and some of the paint damage:
Have you visited the Lincoln Memorial? What was it that you felt standing there?
Image via PetCoffr/Flickr