Shabbat Shalom: Reverse Engineering Our Lives
By: Renée Rockford
Interim President and CEO
This week’s parsha – even in name – offers an ironic twist: the parsha is “Chaye Sarah,” or “The life of Sarah, and it begins, ironically, with Sarah’s death. So much of the reading is about what happens when she is gone.
Rabbi Daniel Cohen, former Denverite and BMH-BJ rabbi, talks about reverse engineering our lives. In his recent book, What Will They Say About You When You are Gone? he asks, “How do we lead a life of infinite impact? How do we lead the lives now for how we want to be remembered when we are no longer here?”
Meet Tim Drago; a man who is living a life of infinite impact. I had not seen him for some three decades…until last week at the rededication of Lincoln Veterans Memorial Park across from the Colorado State Capitol building.
I met Tim during the summer of 1988 when he was trying to raise donations for the Colorado Tribute to Veterans fund. A former history teacher from New York who served in the Vietnam War, his occupation was selling pencils.
I had shared with him my own family’s story of wanting to pay tribute to American veterans because it was the soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 11th Armored Division that liberated my father from a Nazi concentration camp in 1945. Tim knew he had a partner in raising the funds to build the original monument. In 1988, we worked to bring Bob Hope, the famous comedian and long-time advocate for the soldiers of the armed forces, to Denver for a once-in-a-lifetime event. Not long after, the monument was dedicated on Veterans Day in 1990.
Tim will soon turn 80 years old, and he not only built the monument,
but raised an endowment to care for it, ensured that legislation was passed to expand and rename the park “Lincoln Veterans’ Memorial Park,” played a role in getting the park restored after homeless encampments had taken it over, and ensured that a book, Mission Accomplished, was written about the building of the monument. For the better part of his life, Tim has been singularly focused on ensuring that there is a place for veterans to be honored, remembered, and mourned. Out of war, he found courage and meaning, and his unwavering service and dedication to the memory of others is his infinite impact. Tim, kol hakavod. Wishing our community Shabbat Shalom.