I just read the Weekly Writing Challenge: Living History post. The post showed a photo of the Lincoln Memorial with the barricade in front of it announcing the closure of the memorial due to the government shutdown.
I love our nation’s capital. I have visited several times. The first being in the summer of 1967. My uncle let my two sisters, myself, two of my cousins and a friend of theirs out of his car early morning. He gave us money for lunch and told us what bus to take home. He went to work and we ran rampant through the nation’s capital.
At that time, there were no security guards and checkpoints. You could roam the halls of the Capital building , poke you nose through closed doors, interrupting meetings in the chambers. The government was open.
Now, I know what many are thinking. How horrible to let children loose in a major city to fend for themselves. It was the 60’s! Things were different. We survived and have lived to recall the glorious memories of that day long ago.
We walked up the steps of the Washington Monument. We saw things etched into the side of this glorious monument. There is a place that says you are as high as the Statue of Freedom on top of the Capital building. The climb up the steps in that monument is an experience I will never forget.
I mention this because I want to give you some background. I love seeing the monuments and the memorials when I visit my daughter and her family in the D.C. area. I have pride in seeing tributes to people and events that have shaped our country.
A couple of years ago we took a friend from the west coast on her first visit to Washington D.C.. It was a sweltering day, as only can happen in D.C. in July. We were at the Washington Monument. Standing below it and marvelling at its magnificence. In order to go into it you had to have made reservations in advance. We knew this and were content to stand outside of it. While we were there, a family from another country approached us and asked about going inside. We directed them to the kiosk and warned them that they may not be able to enter the monument. Undaunted, the father walked over to see if it was possible to go inside. We watched as he was given the bad news, that, there were no openings for the tour.
What stunned us next was the action this gentleman took. He walked away from his family and went to the base of the monument. He walked to a corner of the monument and threw his arms around the granite. He rested his head on the granite and stayed there for several minutes. It was obvious to us, that this family was from a country that is not a wealthy one. I cried as I watched this man. He needed to feel the freedom this monument represents. The image is burned in my heart.
There are several things I think about the current closure of our government. Being retired military, it affects us very personally. For over twenty years my hubby (and I, to a point) served our country with gladness, but we may not get our retirement check at the end of the month. It will hit us in the pocket. We know this.
There are several other factors also, many of the sites here in Charleston are closed. It is hard to drive by and see forts closed and museums closed.
The thing that sticks in my mind though, is this man and his family at the Washington Monument. How many families like this one have saved for a trip of a lifetime to see tributes to freedom in our country? How many of them, now are standing outside a barricade being denied entry? It breaks my heart to think of those families who cannot truly see our country at it’s finest. They cannot stand on the top step of the Lincoln Memorial and see the view across the Mall. This, indeed, is a sad season.
Just my opinion, but I had to share it. It is just one of the things that is great about our country, our freedom of speech, and that is not barricaded.
Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it. ~Thomas Paine