There are two imposing, larger than life figures that have watched over National University. Scores of students have found solace in their presence. They were a dynamic duo that lent inspiration and reprieve to the weary, unwashed masses walking National’s campus. They were the bastions of excellence. But, alas, one has left us too soon.
The lone survivor
These figures stood at the northeast corner of Lake Janse, providing shade to those studying beneath their comforting boughs. These two willow trees have become almost a hallmark of the grounds at NUHS. I’ve sat beneath them many, many times, gazing out at the fountain, cygnets, and the occasional blue heron that flies in to fish the waters. The lake seems almost lonely without both of them — bare and vulnerable without their combined presence. In a fit of rage, nature robbed one from us, in a storm that left the regal tree battered, beaten, and broken. The bright sunlight now beats down with renewed intensity in its absence, illuminating with stark contrast the lone sentinel. Down, within the soil, nutrients and carbon were shared freely between the two root systems, locked in an ancient embrace — an embrace that is slowly withering away. There’s a metaphor there, if one looks close enough.
The sharing of work and reward, the unification over common goals is a large part of what made this country what it is today — a great nation. A melting pot, an intertwining of roots — these things are, and have been, integral parts of our social fabric. Remembering our shared roots and their contributions to our growth as a nation is one of the most patriotic things to do this Fourth of July. Happy Independence Day!