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The scene was overwhelming: Herringboned clouds bleached blueness, overhead; centuries-old oaks, freshly leafed, shaded the rolling hills, the grass resembling grown-out buzz cuts of new recruits; asphalt roads serpentined among clearly marked plots filled with the remains of women and men who had served our country in combat or peacetime. Thousands of American flags cast a pink glow upon the white oval faces of the headstones, resembling gothic doorways of ancient monks.

Cars inched around turns with tent-covered lemonade stands, with groundskeepers welcoming visitors and helping with directions. Children in T-shirts and shorts walked Indian-style behind their parents, holding pots of flowers. A heavyset lone senior leaned on her cane while scanning the row of headstones for her loved one.

It was Memorial Day, the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery outside of St. Louis, Missouri, and my first visit to this historic site.

I weep with those who weep.

The new dawn blooms as we free it

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it.

If only we’re brave enough to be it.

So concluded Amanda Gorman as she bowed to the audience’s tumultuous response gathered in front of the Capitol, the afternoon of President Biden’s inauguration. Everyone was deeply glad to be American, devoid of divisions, if only for those moments in the sun.

Yet, Something had caught fire and would not be extinguished: powerful, resplendent, omnipresent, it released a common vision tinged with joy. It felt like a spearhead for change, perhaps similar to the one relished by our Founding Fathers.

Perhaps it was the new dawn blooms, the light—energy critical for growth; with it, comes responsibility, discipline, and honesty, hard-won virtues that enervate sloth’s hold upon our unconscious and jettison us from this never-ending shade inherent within our centuries-old history.

However our near future evolves, we can return to this vision of light with its empowerment for change and remember. Many, perhaps, will discover their God, within, and be amazed.

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