My husband and I took the kids to St. Louis to watch the Cubs take on the Cards. As games go, that series belongs in the “best quickly forgotten” category. But one memory of that trip will stick with us for years to come: the Gateway Arch.
Soaring 630 feet high and stretching just as wide, the glinting stainless steel monument left us awestruck with its sheer enormity. We learned the architect, Eero Saarinen, designed the elegant arc without any aid from computers, using only slide rules. I couldn’t help but marvel how one person’s vision and tenacity can produce such an impressive legacy.
As a symbol of westward expansion, the Arch pays tribute to several others in history who shared those qualities:
Thomas Jefferson – Politicians rage about our national debt, and they raged about it in 1803 too. Many howled at Jefferson’s proposal to buy the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon for $15 million (that’s 4 cents an acre). Jefferson knew that without that deal, America would never gain trade access along the Mississippi. He acquired the land despite opposition, and in doing so, doubled our country’s size and helped avert a potential war with France.
Lewis and Clark – Jefferson charged his personal secretary, Meriwether Lewis, to lead an expedition through the new land and discover its commercial and farming prospects. Lewis and fellow commander William Clark braved grizzlies, rattlesnakes and other wilderness perils to return as heroes with maps and scientific intelligence that helped blaze the trail for future pioneers.
Dred Scott – Near the base of the Arch stands the Old Courthouse where in 1847, the slave Dred Scott first sued for his freedom. He lost. Showing indomitable will, Scott pursued his case all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Those nine justices, five of whom came from slave-holding families, ruled that because Scott was black, he was not a citizen and had no right to sue. Northern outrage over the Dred Scott decision helped propel Lincoln to the head of the Republican party, and eventually, the presidency.
Just think of it … the determination of each of these individuals served to sway the course of history. Now imagine what you can accomplish in your own life if you possess the will to make it happen. What will your legacy be?
“I am a great believer in luck,
and I find that the harder I work,
the more I have of it.”
Photo credit by freedigitalphotos.net/suphakit73