Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Age Of Cynacism

I have to admit to a certain amount of cynacism when it comes to politics. Six years into the Bush debacle has left me gasping for breathe and foaming at the mouth. But walking out in front of the Capitol building and staring out across the Mall towards the Washington Monument left me with more than just a lump in my throat. It renewed my faith in this country. Everyone should visit Washington. And if possible, have an astrophysicist give you a guided tour of the Air & Space Museum. I highly recommend it. Thanks Rick.

And if you get the chance, share a plate of fried okra with Virago girl. She's absolutely delightful. Thanks Jen.

The very first place we visited was the National Archives. I wanted to see the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. The Declaration is fading fast. Hard to read. Even harder to read surrounded by hundreds of eighth graders. All of them talking too loud and disregarding the 'no flash' rule with their cameras. My cynacism was coming back with a vengeance.

The Constitution is in much better shape. At least physically. I checked, the fourth amendment is still there. Although no one seems to be enforcing it. There was some writing near the bottom by the signatures. It appeared to be an expiration date. I think it said (best if used by Jan 2000) hmmmm. Damn cynacism.

Later that night we drove over to the Lincoln Memorial. This is an awe inspiring place day or night but lit up it's very dramatic. There weren't very many people around, which I liked. Soon our awe turned to shock and awe when we noticed what can best be described as a half-assed attempt at filming some kind of music video. This guy appeared to be rapping (silently lipsyncing thank god) using Lincoln's stern and solemn pose as a backdrop.
It was, as we like to say, real weak. My cynacism was creeping up on me.

Next we walked over to the Korean War Memorial. Probably the most interesting memorial of all. It depicts a squad of guys walking through the rain wearing ponchos. And wouldn't you no it, it was raining when we were there. The statues are all lit from low angles and as you walk by this creates the illusion of movement among the squad. I wanted to say welcome home guys and thank you. An interesting fact we learned is that the number of killed listed on the memorial (around 54000) is wrong. That number actually represents the total number of servicemen and women killed during the years of our involvement in Korea regardless of where they served. The number actually killed in Korea is around 36000. We learned this from one of the vets answering questions at the Vietnamn Memorial a couple of days later.

But this is what Washington is about. Remembering. Those who have served and given their lives. Those who stood for something. Those who changed our society for the better. At the top of the steps of the Lincoln Memorial there's a square ingraved with the words "I have a dream." It's the exact spot Martin Luther King Jr. stood when he gave that famous speech. I stood there when we went back on Sunday looking out across the Mall. It was a beautiful day. Not a cloud in the sky. People were out walking around. Couples. Families. Throwing frisbees, flying kites, playing kickball and softball. I looked out across all that, the Washington Monument looming large over everybody and I thought. Damn I love this country. No cynacism to be found anywhere.

Next stop on my patriotic vision quest: Philadelphia.


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