Tuesday, April 19, 2005

On A Lovely Expression from a Former President

At times, President Clinton can really turn a phrase. This AP article in the New York Times describes a beautiful moment from Clinton's speech at today's memorial service for the Oklahoma City Bombing:
Clinton got a chuckle when he mentioned the Survivor Tree, the elm that was heavily damaged in the bombing and is now a leafy green reminder of it.

''Boy, that tree was ugly when I first saw it (in 1995), but survive it did,'' Clinton said.

''Trees are good symbols for what you did. You can't forget the past of a tree. It's in the roots, and if you lose the roots you lose the tree. But the nature of the tree is to always reach for tomorrow. It's in the branches.''
By making the gentle humorous observation, Clinton smoothly unites everyone in the audience by making them laugh together. In quick fashion, Clinton then deftly merges the spatial with the temporal--"roots," "branches," "past," and "tomorrow."

This is just what a good memorial speech does: it brings us together to an immediate place and space where we can jointly remember the past in order to allow us to go into and create a better future.


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