I enjoy art museums. I’m not sure when it started, but I certainly know when it caught fire. I was on a mission trip to France when we were given 2 hours in the Louvre. I was shocked at my initial reactions to certain works of art, as well as my hunger to know more. By no means am I an expert. In fact, I’m barely a novice. (Someday I will take some art appreciation classes so I can at least claim ‘novice’ status.
Independence Day is almost upon us. As I type this, I believe our nation is undergoing a radical transformation where liberties are being exchanged, thereby creating winners and losers. Even with all this, we have enjoyed, and still have an amazing array of freedoms and rights compared to much of the world. This Manet painting, which I saw at the J.Paul Getty Museum in California, speaks to this national pride.
Not that it is needed, but let me explain as best I can. Manet, the great Impressionist painter, is looking out his studio window at the 1878 celebration of a French national holiday, called the Fête de la Paix (Celebration of Peace). It is not many years removed from the end of a war. In preparation for the celebration of national peace and prosperity, street banners are being placed (note the ladder leaving the scene at the bottom suggesting the task was just finished) and the wealthy folks, with their hansom cabs, busy themselves for the festivities.
An isolated figure interrupts the scene. It is a one-legged veteran on crutches who hobbles in the left corner of the painting with the feeling of being forgotten by the festivities. This celebrated peace and prosperity cost him more than anyone yet he is alone and forgotten on this day.
It is important that we honor and appreciate those men and women who have served in the military to secure the liberties we still enjoy. Stand and cheer loudly when the veterans roll past in the parade. It will do us all good to remember. As Paul reminds us:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things. (Phi 4:8 NIV)