Stones of Remembrance
Updated: Apr 15, 2020
1 Samuel 7:12-13
Four American presidents photobombed our family pictures one summer. If you were to see the pictures, you would notice George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln peeking over our shoulders. They managed to sneak their granite faces into every single shot!
It was our first trip to Mt. Rushmore as a family, and we were amazed at the beauty of the figures carved into the stone. We were good tourists, so we made sure to walk through the small museum and watch the video. There I learned about Gutzon Borglum, the American sculptor responsible for designing this iconic monument. He wanted to make a statement reminding future generations of America’s past. Each president signified a different phase of America’s development.
Mt. Rushmore is a stone of remembrance—a reminder of America’s great past and a challenge to pursue a great future.
Whether Borglum intended to or not, his idea of a stone of remembrance has deep biblical roots. When the nation of Israel crossed over the Jordan River, God commanded them to set up 12 stones on the bank of the river as a reminder to future generations of God’s saving power (Joshua 4:1-9). On another occasion, after a great victory against the Philistines, a priest named Samuel took a stone and placed it on the field of battle and called it Ebenezer, which means “stone of help.” The stone’s purpose was to remind the nation that God helped them win the battle (1 Samuel 7:12-13).
Stones of remembrance address the human tendency to forget the past. Mt. Rushmore has stood for almost 75 years as a reminder of the blessings of the past. Samuel’s Ebenezer stone would ensure future generations heard about God’s greatness displayed in the past.
We may think stones of remembrance are no longer necessary, as if technological advances have cured us of our tendency to forget the past. Mt. Rushmore argues otherwise. When my family left our home we weren’t thinking about our country’s past, thankful for the great blessings which led us to this day. But when we arrived at Mt. Rushmore, we started to think about the past. We talked about how grateful we were. The stones of remembrance did their job—we remembered what we so easily forget.