Reflections at Monticello

I woke up this morning in Charlottesville, Virginia and looked up the hill rising above me. It is Monticello, the plantation home of Thomas Jefferson. The first light of the day was brilliantly reflecting in the windows of the elegant buildings atop the little mountain -- a shining brow of that hill where one of the chief architects of our freedom once so brilliantly thought and wrote and lived.

Mr. Jefferson is a good symbol for the complexity of the American experience: a slaveholder who wrote about the self-evident rights of people to be free. His courage at the crisis moment of our young nation, and his great mind and eloquence, certainly redeem him in most American eyes.

It is often a moment of courage in a great time that redeems us of our many shortcomings. So it has been for so many of our friends and relatives in the great wars that have so fully tested courage.

It is Veterans Day. It is a day for calling up those old friends and family members who summoned all their courage to do the right thing as they saw it -- for peace or war -- in a difficult time. I will call those people in my family today. Thank God there is no Hallmark card for it. We are allowed to speak for ourselves -- the simple "Today is Veterans' Day and I wanted to let you know that I remember and appreciate what you did so many years ago for us all." It is so welcome a call. It gives such meaning to lives otherwise compromised by the complexities and conflicts of industrial life. I hope you will make such a call today yourself, and will pass along this reminder to others.

I remain on my voter registration trek. The old van is in the shop today so we cannot move on to Richmond for a day or two, so I will do some more tabling at the University of Virginia here. I am rounding up volunteers who will help us table at the big stores next month, all over the US.

But for now, this morning, I am looking at the glint of sunrise still flashing along the top of the magic hill before me. It is moving to me to see the place still so alive and brilliant, as we all must be if our democracy is to move forward from this time of crisis.

As with that democracy, this is a time to make repairs and thank those who have gotten us here.

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