By Zach Dvorak
After dealing with an unrelenting illness for the past couple of days I made a trip to visit the main tourist attractions in Washington D.C. We had previously gone on a bus tour to visit them during the day, but I kept hearing people say going at night is an important experience to have and I just couldn’t refuse.
While I love visiting all the memorials for Lincoln, World War II, and FDR. Nothing made me more excited then finally visiting the one in honor of Thomas Jefferson. It stands in D.C like a Greek temple for the Gods, isolated from the others and surrounded by a basin. The trek to it was a long and grueling mission that ended up with my group stranded for 45 minutes waiting for anyone to pick us up. But the cold long wait didn’t bring down my excitement of standing in the place of remembrance for my favorite president.
Now you might think why I was so excited to see a statue, and I’ll tell you that wasn’t the main point.
If I cared about the magnitude of a statue, I would have cared more for the Lincoln. But I have seen the Lincoln online and read the quotes on the walls a dozen times. What interested my about Jefferson’s memorial is writings that I have never seen. The one that really moved me was on the Southeast side of the building and read:
“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as a civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.“
– Excerpted from a letter to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1816
For me, I never thought I could like Thomas Jefferson more, but then this quote just moved me. His intellectual knowledge help create the foundation for the country but hoped that the intellectualism of the human kind would not be stopped by those of a time long ago.
It makes sense now why we have so much debate on the Constitution, if there wasn’t ambiguous language persistent in the writing, our minds would never be challenged. Our ideas would stay the same, and our future as a country would look bleak.
Nothing made me happier on this trip then reading words on a wall written 200 years ago, it gave me hope for our country that with more education the betterment of mankind is one step closer to a happier possibility. Hopefully our politicians listen to these words and understand the need for growth, but stay within the lines of our intellect.
I also licked the Washington Monument that night, maybe explains why I’m sick. Sick with patriotism (ha ha ha).