The Common Good

After Boston: Above and Beyond

The National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago has an unusual work of art.

Above and Beyond Memorial. Photo via National Veteran's Art Museum, Chicago
Above and Beyond Memorial. Photo via National Veteran's Art Museum, Chicago

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When visitors first enter the museum, they hear a sound like wind chimes coming from above them. Their attention is drawn upward 24 feet to the ceiling of the two-story high atrium.

The metal dog tags of the more than 58,000 service men and women who died in the Vietnam War move and chime with shifting air currents. The 10-by-40-foot sculpture, titled “Above and Beyond” was designed by Ned Broderick and Richard Steinbock.

Family and friends locate the exact dog tag of a loved one as a museum employee uses a laser to point to the tag with the name imprinted on the dog tag, now part of a chorus of wind chimes.

After the horror and tragedy in Boston, our heads have been down. This work of art serves as a reminder to look up to hear the sound of the spirit of goodness, compassion, and creativity that can turn tragedy and death into wind chimes played in silence by the air.

The word for “Spirit” in Hebrew Scripture is “ruach” (“wind”). “When God began to create the heavens and the earth – the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water – God said, ‘Let there be light;’ and there was light” (Genesis 1 – 3, translation from the Hebrew by Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut in The Torah: a Modern Commentary (Union of American Hebrew Congregations, New York, 1981).

Click HERE for a YouTube video of an interview with a National Veterans Art Museum volunteer Joe Fornelli.

Gordon C. Stewart is a social commentator, writer and radio commentator on Minnesota Public Radio's "All Things Considered" (MPR).  He is pastor at Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church in Chaska, Minn. Visit him at http://gordoncstewart.com/

Photo: Above and Beyond Memorial. Photo via National Veteran's Art Museum, Chicago

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