Saturday, August 18, 2012

Black Hills Legacy ~ Crazy {Horse} Dream

It is what we leave behind.
What we pass on.
Here in South Dakota
 we have Korczak Ziolkowski, 
sculptor of Crazy Horse Memorial.
He said,
"Never forget your dreams."

He passed on his crazy dream to his family.

All my life, when the subject of the
Crazy Horse Memorial
comes up,
the most common thing I hear people say is,
"It will never get done."

He died in 1982, 
and in 2012,
it is still getting done.
I was only 8 years old
and I remember the Rapid City Journal
reporting his death.
I remember people thinking it was the end.
That the dream died with him.

How much do I take for granted,
how much do I casually think about,
the absolute impossibility of Crazy Horse Memorial
being built before my eyes?

How often do I casually think about
the impossible made possible 
when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon?

How much do I take for granted and casually consider
the miracle of Earth and living in the USA
on the clean and safe prairie of South Dakota
where I breathe clean and pure air,
drink clean and pure water,
have an abundance of food,
a safe home,
beautiful wildflowers,
extravagant sunsets,

I can be nonchalant, apathetic, cynical, doubting, a dream crusher.
Or I can be in awe.
I can become fascinated with the ordinary . . . 
and the extraordinary.
I can have gratitude.

Ordinary miracles.
Everyday miracles.
And wild crazy dreamers that do the once thought impossible
 and pass on their vision and commitment . . . 
to keep on doing it,
as John F. Kennedy said about going to the moon,
"not because it is easy, but because it is hard".

Every one should watch the video
of Korczak Ziolkowski,
a Polish immigrant,
commissioned by the leaders of the Lakota people,
to build a memorial of their hero and culture,
who accepted their vision,
and then began
building his crazy steps up the mountain.
Everyone should see his machine
that he would start and it would quit with a
"Kaput, Kaputta, Kaputt!"
 He'd have to go down those
crazy wooden stairs and start it again.

I told my husband,
"I can't imagine the first day."
"Where would  you even begin?"

But isn't it the same for all of us?
If we have a vision, a goal, a dream, a calling, a purpose,
we have to start right where we are,
on something that seems impossible.
We have to put one foot in front of the other.
We have to risk.
We must have faith which means we
believe in something we cannot see.

It makes me think of my ancestors and their crazy dreams
of coming to America.
A land they did not know.
To work for a vision that had no guarantees.
But they wanted to work and have freedom
to worship and create a life.

There is something to be learned
at Crazy Horse Memorial
about resilience,
about commitment,
about hard work,
about vision,
about legacy,
about sticking to it even though it is hard.

This is life.
Be creative.
Have a vision.
Go to work.
Even though it is hard.
Have hope.

There is something to be learned
about knowing in your spirit
deep within
that what you are doing is the right path
for you to journey upon
no matter what
the doubters and skeptics say.

He reminds me of Noah.
How people laughed and mocked Noah as he built the ark.
But Noah kept building.
Noah had faith in the One who gave the vision.

He reminds me of David.
David had a dream to build a temple for the LORD.
But he had to let go of the dream.
He wouldn't be the one to complete it.
It would be his son Solomon.
The dream and vision did not die with David.
It was his legacy passed on.
The Lord gave the vision and he also gave the word to let it go on . . .

One and a half million people visit Crazy Horse Memorial each year.

One and half million people can either say,
"It will never be done"
"I will start living what I believe even though other people do not believe it"
"Even if I cannot complete the vision that I have, I can pass on a legacy."

2012 Photos property of Jodene Shaw.


  1. Such an inspiring post! Very well said. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Absolutely breathtaking!! I was there in the early 80's and again in 2005. To see the difference was amazing!!! Love that last photo!!!!!

  3. I, too, was there in the '80's. I wept!! This work is just so moving to me! I thought I would be that way at Mt. Rushmore, but the Crazy Horse Memorial is the one that did it to me. And much of the why has to do with the continuation of the legacy. I just hope that when it's time for my daughter and son-in-law to take their kids there, they ask grandma to go along! Thanks for sharing, Jodene.


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