No. 894



The word legacy is an interesting one on the English language. It means, according to the dictionary, “1: Money or property left to you by a will; bequeath. 2. Something handed down from, or as from, an ancestor to a descendent.”
I might add this “something” can include a wide range of things in addition to money or property. The list could include our accomplishments, honors, a foundation, trust or other means to carry on our good name to be celebrated by family and future generations. We all remember names like Christopher Columbus, Abraham Lincoln, Babe Ruth, Neil Armstrong, Dr. Martin Luther King, Elvis Presley, and Mother Teresa. To be sure these people left a mark on history, and this is part of their legacy.
I can tell you truthfully that I am not concerned at all about my legacy but I am concerned about my reputation because this really says who I am as a person. Our reputation is something that can take years, or even a lifetime, to build and only one thoughtless, selfish or corrupt deed to completely destroy. For me personally, I care deeply what others think of me. Could I ask you this somewhat personal question; do you care what others think of you? The vast majority of people I know also care. However, I am sure there are some people who really don’t care.
As it relates to what I am saying, a while back a friend sent me an article by Michael Josephson titled, “Live a Life that Matters.” This article helps me evaluate how well I am doing, and it’s in first person.
It begins: “For each of us, whether we are ready or not, life will come to an end. There will be no more sunrises, no more minutes, hours or days. All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else. Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrink to irrelevance. It will not matter what you owned or what you owed. Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.
“So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire. The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away. It won’t matter where you came from or what side of the track you lived on in the end. It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant. So, what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured? What will matter is not what you bought but what you built. Not what you got but what you gave. What will matter is not your successes, but your significance. What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught. What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage and sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
“What will matter is not your competence, but your character. What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you are gone. What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live on in those who love you. What will matter is how long will you be remembered, by whom, and for what. Living a life that matters does not happen by accident. It is not a matter of Circumstances but of Choice.”
I might add this is one of the most penetrating articles that I have read in a long time, and Mr. Josephson is to be higly commended. But back to my earlier question: “What will your legacy be?” To my way of thinking, the people who really have a legacy are those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice defending our nation’s freedom, in all the branches of our Armed Services, past, present and future. We all owe them a debt of gratitude.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)