Hi, everyone. I’m almost completely settled back in from my cross-country journey. There are still a few more glorious days of leave remaining, which I now get to spend relaxing in the comfort of my own home doing whatever I feel like doing (and a few things that need doing).
With more than 3,000 miles of round-trip interstate travel, I’ve had a good deal of time to clear my head, reflect on life, and escape from everyday stresses. That’s not to say my trip was entirely stress-free, but it did help me break free from the usual grind.
As I prepared for this post, my initial thought was to recap my visit — deviate from the fitness meme for a bit and just share a few interesting travel experiences. While that might be fun, it’s just not what this blog is all about.
With that, I have nonetheless decided to share a few facts about the Jefferson Memorial and its status as a lasting testament to American determination and resilience.
Believe it or not, we can actually tie all of that to your personal fitness and well being.
But first, some facts…
Engineers broke ground on the Jefferson Memorial back in 1939 after the site was chosen by a special committee in reaction to an idea first presented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934. The monumental structure was engineered by John Russell Pope based upon the architectural preferences Jefferson exhibited in designing his home at Monticello. The sculpture artist was Rudulph Evans. The entire structure is 129 feet high (statue stands 19 feet tall), weighs in at 5 tons, receives approximately 2.5 million visitors each year, and is open to the public 24 hours-a-day. Construction began in the fall of 1939. In all, the memorial cost three million dollars and took just over three years to complete.
And what, you ask, is the significance in all that?
The project was proposed, commissioned, funded, constructed and opened to the public at the height of the worst financial crisis the modern world has ever seen. Did it help bring the U.S. out of the Great Depression? That’s certainly arguable. Just the same…
My view on the Jefferson Memorial Project:
It created jobs and, perhaps more importantly, renewed a sense of hope in the hearts and minds of the American people at a time when nobody was even trying to guess how the Great Depression might pan out in the end. The Jefferson Memorial Project was a simple idea nested within a very meticulous, if not entirely successful, plan for national recovery.
And now for the fitness connection…
Are you worried about your body composition? Does your current health and fitness profile seem beyond repair? If so, call upon the memories of your parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts…anyone who experienced first hand the Great Depression and persevered through it all.
Do you know what your elders did to ride out the storm?
It was quite basic. They adapted and overcame. How? They simply did. Think about that for a moment.
Take that approach to fitness improvement, and your chances for success will increase ten-fold. See a problem area? Work to address it. You may not be able to tackle all of your health and fitness issues at once, but every single effort counts. If anybody tells you differently, they are sadly mistaken and likely limiting their own fitness potential.
I highly encourage you to give this some very serious thought. I know people who have shed unwanted pounds simply by eliminating sugary colas from their diet. That’s not fad dieting. That’s a seemingly small lifestyle choice that can result in very real, and very positive results.
Don’t just stare at yourself in the mirror or hop on and off the scale wondering when and how things got so bad. Instead, pick apart your problem areas element by element. Make focused and intentional adjustments to your day-to-day routines, and pay attention to what happens in the mid and long term.
Most importantly…persevere! Do NOT give up. The road to fitness is long and difficult. Like freedom, a fit and healthy body comes at a cost. Join the ranks of others who just want to be healthy. You are not alone in your fight.
I’ll sign off with an excerpt from then Governor Ronald Reagan’s 1967 inaugural address to the California Legislature. President Reagan was himself a survivor of the Great Depression. His comments here, if you’re familiar with his life story, are apropos to everything we’ve covered today.
Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again. Knowing this, it is hard to explain to those who even today would question the people’s capacity for self-rule. Will they answer this: if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? **
Until next time…
P.S. Appreciate your freedoms, America. Employ them, but do not abuse them. Promote them, but do not flaunt them. Enjoy them, but do not expect them to come freely. Protect them as have so many before you, and raise your children to carry forward the awesome traditions of American “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
* Jefferson Memorial facts courtesy of WashingtonDC-Go.com
** Reagan speech transcript excerpt courtesy of the Public Broadcasting System’s American Experience