Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Donald Eubank
U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii
Have you ever seen the magnificence and beauty of the great lighthouse that leads ships safely from the wide open seas of the Mediterranean into the Suez Canal?
No, you haven’t.
The reason why you’ve never seen that lighthouse is that it was never built.
It’s an incredible story few people know, and it gives each of us encouragement to hang on to our dreams, even when we might feel those dreams lie in ashes at our feet.
The year was 1854. Ferdinand de Lesseps had a great dream of building a canal that would unite the Mediterranean and Red seas, while French sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi was visiting Egypt, enjoying the majesty of the pyramids and monuments.
Bartholdi and de Lesseps met, and Bartholdi was enthralled by de Lesseps’ plans to build the Suez Canal.
Bartholdi immediately began to dream of building a great lighthouse at the mouth of the Suez Canal, and he shared his dream with de Lesseps. The lighthouse was to be a statue of a great lady holding a lighted torch, symbolizing the light and truth of the virtues of Christianity being brought to the Middle East.
The two men agreed a lighthouse would be the “capstone” piece for the Suez Canal, and Bartholdi began to plan, draw and build scale models of the lighthouse. Bartholdi attempted to raise funds to build his lighthouse, but to his great sorrow, no one was willing to contribute.
In 1867 Bartholdi watched the Suez Canal open — without his lighthouse. He returned to France greatly disappointed, a broken man. His dream was dead; at least, he thought it was dead.
Shortly after Bartholdi returned to France, officials of the French government contacted him. France was planning to give a gift to the U.S. to commemorate the alliance between the two nations during the American Revolution.
Officials in the French government had seen models of Bartholdi’s great lighthouse and believed it would be the perfect gift for the U.S., and so they commissioned Bartholdi to design the monumental sculpture to commemorate their national alliances on the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence.
Bartholdi lived to see his dream come alive again. On June 17, 1886, the great lighthouse statue arrived in New York Harbor.
By now you have figured out that Bartholdi’s great lighthouse is the Statue of Liberty, a lighthouse statue that almost never was.
Being a dreamer is often about having patience to see our dreams come to life after seeing them all but die.
In the first book of the Bible is the story of a real dreamer; his name was Joseph. As a young teenager, Joseph dreamed about his future and his family. At the age of 17, Joseph was sold into slavery and didn’t see his family for the next 22 years. But Joseph never let go of his dreams, and at age 39, he saw his dreams come true — his family reunited and saved from a great famine.
What then about your dreams? Your dream may be to lead Soldiers, or to become the command sergeant major of the Army. Or maybe your dream is to become a scientist who will discover the cure to diseases, or perhaps you wish to become a national leader in public service, helping to preserve peace and justice in our country.
Whatever your dreams are, don’t let go of them.