The tombstone of Benjamin Franklin reads:
The body of B. Franklin, Printer, Like the Cover of an old Book. Its Contents torn out. And stripped of its Lettering and Gilding. Lies here. Food for worms. But the Work shall not be wholly lost. For it will as he believ’d appear once more In a new and more elegant Edition Corrected and improved By the Author.
The epitaph over Martin Luther King’s grave reads:
“Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty I’m Free at last.”
Merv Griffin’s marker says: “I will NOT be right back after this message.”
And Mel Blanc’s reads: “That’s all folks.”
It’s worth thinking about. What will they inscribe on your tombstone? Your epitaph? What are those few words that will memorialize your existence?
Before his death, Thomas Jefferson left explicit instructions regarding the monument to be erected over his grave. Jefferson supplied a sketch of the shape of the marker, and the epitaph with which he wanted it to be inscribed:
Here was buried Thomas Jefferson Author of the Declaration of American Independence of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom & Father of the University of Virginia
Jefferson’s maker is most intriguing for what it does not say. Remember, he was the nation’s third president.
Joshua’s epitaph is also most remarkable for what it doesn’t say. It doesn’t remind us that he was “Moses’ assistant” (Joshua 1:1), nor of his military exploits, or his remarkable leadership. It summarizes what was most important.
“The Lord’s servant, Joshua son of Nun, died at the age of 110” (Joshua 24:29, CSB).
“The Lord’s servant.” Could that be said of my life” ... of yours?