That’s Gonna Leave a Mark

Dr. Steven J. Callis

Their names many not be immediately recognized, but Jeffrey Petkovich and Peter Debernardi were the first to ever survive the Horshoe Falls, going over the 176-foot-high Niagara Falls in a barrel.  They came out of the feat with only minor injuries – and an arrest!  They were fined for breaking Niagara Park laws.  Following that incident, the fine for anyone attempting this particular stunt was increased to $10,000 and confiscation of the barrel. 

 

I assume they were sober when they attempted this feat, and even when they thought of the idea.  On the side of their barrel were the words, “DON’T PUT YOURSELF TO THE EDGE – DRUGS WILL KILL YOU.”  So, the question in the minds of us non-risk-taking people: “Why?” 

 

Most of us can remember being part of a group where someone came up with a somewhat off-the-wall idea and, before we knew it, we were engaged in a risky, or dangerous, or senseless shenanigan.  Success or failure did not matter nearly so much as the fact that “we did it.”

 

Well, I suppose we can only speculate about this two-man barrel riding team, but one hypothesis can be based on the words of one of the team members – – DeBernardi was quoted as saying that it was a small price (injuries and fines) to pay to be immortalized in the history books. 

 

It worked.  Others may claim to have accomplished the same feat, but only these two can claim to have accomplished it first.  That fact of history will not change.  Of course, their names are not readily known across the world, but one minute of internet browsing can lead a person to the names of the first persons to survive Niagara Falls. 

 

They did it for the fame.  On the positive side, we could say that they wanted to leave a mark in this world; a legacy.  On the other hand, I am still wondering how their contribution to our world made life better for people.

 

C.T. Studd wrote a beautiful lyric that centered on this thought: Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last. 

I am not opposed to having fun, nor do I insist that every single action we take should have serious meaning.  It is my conviction, however, that each of us should live life with purpose, and that the legacy we desire to leave with this world is one that positively and lastingly impacts the good of humankind.

When someone says of you, “Wow, that is going to leave a mark,” let it be a mark of goodness on our fellow man.

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