“The Rainbow Pool at the National World War II Memorial may look inviting on a hot day, but those who choose to wade in the water are breaking National Park Service rules.”
While this is neither specifically Anglophilic nor specifically Anglican, it is important, I think, for what it says about the choices we make, as a society.
Those who choose to use the Rainbow Pool at the National WW II Memorial as a wading-pool are not just breaking National Park Service regulations, but they are also – and more importantly, to my mind, although the vast majority of NPS rules are there for a reason, and not to be lightly disregarded – breaking what used to be common-sense standards of decency and decorum.
That monument, including its Rainbow Pool, is there to honor American heroes and war-dead, not to provide a place to cool off (if I am a little bit sensitive to this, it is in part because my father fought with honor and distinction in that great conflict). Some will doubtless argue, “people are just exercising the very freedom for which they died.” That is not only missing the point, but it represents, if I may dare to be so blunt, a very sophomoric, even elementary-school-playground, idea of freedom.
While some of those who died may very well not have minded if people cooled off in “their” pool, that does not, even if true, remove from us the obligation to treat their monument, and their memory, with honor and respect, and to teach our children the same. That includes the exercise of due reverence, including a measure of control over our physical desires — including the desire to cool off, on a hot day.
The freedom for which our forebears fought, sacrificed, and in many cases, died, was not intended to be freedom to do anything we want, anywhere we want, anytime we want. It was to be freedom to be the best people we could possibly be. A lot of people don’t “get” that. But then, sadly, there are a lot of things that a lot of people don’t “get,” these days…