In one of Savannah’s lush squares, just a few blocks from where the dark waters of the Savannah River slide slowly toward the Atlantic, surrounded by moss draped live oaks and thousands of azalea blooms, stands a towering monument. Its four huge columns of rose-colored marble were erected in 1882 to honor William Washington Gordon, the first president of Georgia’s earliest railroad.
The park is not Gordon’s, however. It’s currently called Wright Square. But it wasn’t originally so named. And Gordon is not the only one with a monument there. Confused yet?
The original square was laid out in 1733 and named for John Percival, Earl of Egmont, who played a leading role in founding the colony of Georgia. Times changed and loyalties shifted. By 1763, the square was renamed for James Wright, then governor of the province of Georgia. But, the man first honored with a monument there was native American Tomochichi, chief of the Yamacraw Indians, who befriended the first European settlers in the area. Gordon didn’t come along till much later.
Gordon’s memory will be supplanted, too. Regardless the sizes of their monuments, most men are soon forgotten. Remember the Egyptian pyramids? Of all the Pharaohs buried there, how many names do you recall?
Hardly anybody remembers the men whose names are found in Wright Square either. Only a curious handful pause to read the markers summing up whole lives in a few lines. The pigeons certainly have no respect for old Gordon. They leave their own markers on his nice marble.
Long ago, a wise man named Solomon observed the fickleness of human fame. “There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow,” he wrote (Ecclesiastes 1:11).
There is, however, a way to be remembered forever. To the one who is faithful, Jesus promises, “I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels” (Revelation 3:5). He will engrave that name permanently on the only monument that matters. Better yet, he will place that person forever in the most beautiful garden imaginable, surpassing even the splendor of Savannah’s squares in spring.
Near Wright Square, the river flows silently out to sea. The men on shore slip quietly into history. The world moves on. Heaven, however, stands forever.