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OI’m taking a one day break from talking about books. Mostly because I don’t have a favorite or influential book that begins with “O”. But, I did run across this piece this morning and I think it is fitting for the letter “O”:

Often our best efforts go unnoticed. The Kentucky Monument here at Chickamauga, dedicated in 1899, is immaculately detailed – The sculpture has finger nails, pupils,locks of hair, and even anatomically detailed ears. In her clothing you can see buttons holding her armor together, and her belt is decorated with an equally detailed face. 

click for more detail

click for more detail – Photo detail of the Kentucky Monument, taken during recent restoration work.

Almost none of these details are visible to public down below. The sculptor could have taken shortcuts and hedged on the details at the top of the monument. Nobody would ever know. But he didn’t. Even when people don’t see our work, we still have an obligation to put forth our best efforts in all we do.

I have been to Chickamauga National Battlefield Park more times than any other Civil War Battlefield and I will miss it when I move to Kentucky—I thought it ironic that this was about the Kentucky monument. Even though I’ve seen this monument numerous times and I know exactly where it is on the battlefield, the details discussed above alluded me—well, it is on a rather tall pedestal!

Even when people don’t see our work, we still have an obligation to put forth our best efforts in all we do.

What a powerful statement. It is reminiscent of the Apostle Paul’s words in Colossians 3:17—Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. I don’t know the artist who sculpted this statue, but I like to think that he had that verse in mind when he did so. It also reminds me of the old saying, Who are you when no one is looking? or from a church marque, Don’t Pretend to Be Who You Don’t Intend to Be.

Kentucky is one of those states whose monuments on Civil War battlefields could be Federal or Confederate. Kentucky tried to remain neutral during the war, in effect saying, Y’all stay out of Kentucky and we’ll remain neutral. Seems reasonable. Confederate General Leonidas Polk had other ideas:

He committed one of the great blunders of the Civil War by dispatching troops to occupy Columbus, Kentucky, in September 1861; the critical border state of Kentucky had declared its neutrality between the Union and the Confederacy, but Polk’s action was instrumental in prompting the Kentucky legislature to request Federal aid to resist his advance, ending the state’s brief attempt at neutrality and effectively ceding it to Union control for the remainder of the war. (from Wikipedia)

Most other generals would have been fired, but Polk was one of Jefferson Davis’ favorites and so his blunder was overlooked—this would not be his last blunder, nor the last time Jefferson Davis saved his butt. But even Jefferson Davis couldn’t save him from a shell (cannon ball) that on June 14, 1864 in Pine Mountain, Georgia, hit Polk in the left arm, traversed his body, exiting through his right arm, nearly cutting him in half.

Back to books tomorrow, folks!