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Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

It Starts and Stops with Me

  • Jim Daly
    Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2013 Sep 06
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 Here in Colorado, we’re looking forward to the promise of fall – yet I’m still thinking back on our family’s vacation this past summer to South Dakota. Our trips to the Black Hills have become an annual tradition.

Just a few miles south of Mount Rushmore is another memorial. It’s not as well-known or as acclaimed as the four presidents carved in stone, but it has a similarly fascinating history.

About 65 years ago, sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski accepted Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear’s proposal to build a monument honoring the heritage of Native Americans. The vision for the project included a mammoth-sized image of Chief Crazy Horse carved into the side of a mountain.


Ziolkowski began blasting and moving rocks around in 1948 with the help of a few dedicated men. The work was slow and tedious. Ziolkowski passed away in 1982 with his efforts nowhere near completion. The project could have come to an abrupt halt right then – but his wife, Ruth, along with seven of his ten children, decided to carry on his work. Fifty years after the initial blasts were heard, the face of Crazy Horse was dedicated in 1998, but the sculpting of the horse is still going on today.

What inspired me most was the influence Ziolkowski had on generations of his family, who remain determined to see their father’s (and now grandfather’s) vision through to completion. To me, it illustrated the impact my wife, Jean, and I hope to have on our boys in seeing our faith and values passed down to their generation and to generations beyond.


The beautiful thing about that goal is it’s one any couple can work toward. It’s just as relevant to single parents and those who have been divorced as it is for intact marriages. Families currently on a positive trajectory can be empowered to keep moving forward with the motto, “It starts with me!” Others have an opportunity to right their family’s course after years – perhaps generations – of dysfunction and write a new motto: “It stops with me!”

 Pictures courtesy of Crazy Horse Memorial. Used with permission.

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