When most people visit South Dakota, Mount Rushmore tops their list of things to geek out on. But in the Noll Wilson world, it’s all about Crazy Horse. This is the often under appreciated step-brother to Mount Rushmore because, “it’s not finished Sarah!” But each year we visit, I am always reminded of how astounding this monument is. First, let’s get some facts straight:
- Korczak Ziolkowski began work on Crazy Horse Memorial in 1948. Once complete, this tribute to the Lakota leader will be the largest mountain carving in South Dakota, and the world.
- Korczak knew he wouldn’t finish this task in his lifetime. He knew he would never see this monument finished, but still, he dedicated his life to it.
- The team building this monument turned down money twice from the government, because they saw the writing on the wall. Do you know why Mount Rushmore isn’t finished? They accepted promises of money from the government. And this money never came through.
- Just how big is the Crazy Horse Monument? All of Mount Rushmore will fit inside Crazy Horse’s head. Just think about that. His nose weighs 139 tons. His eye is 6 feet long. Just look at tiny Sarah in this photo for perspective.
We have been making that 6 mile trek up to Crazy Horse for over a decade now. And every year, without fail, I turn the corner to crest the top of this mountain, turn around, and am shaken by the magic of this feat. It’s humbling and inspiring to see what has been carved out of this mountain. It always makes me think about what task, project, or idea I would start work on knowing that I wouldn’t live to see it finished. In reality, we work on things to get to the end goal; to see that finished project. That is what keeps us going. But Korczak didn’t have that motivation, and day after day he went out with a single jackhammer and worked on Crazy Horse. Why? Because he knew the goal was bigger than him. How many of us can say that?
What is your Crazy Horse? What would you commit to knowing you wouldn’t see the finished product in your lifetime? How might your life be different if you pushed towards purpose instead of just a pay check?