The Greatest  

Friday, August 15 : 5:45 PM : 0 comments :

Growing up I had a fascination with Benjamin Franklin, John F Kennedy, and Abraham Lincoln. I collected as many books about each as possible and tried to learn random facts about their lives. Milk Street, Poor Richard's, PT-109, The Rail Splitter. I guess a lot of middle school kids had the same fascination because these three represent some of the more charismatic, accomplished, and interesting figures in American history. At one time, I was also totally into presidents so coming to Washington DC officially for the first time, I felt like I had to see a few of the historical landmarks. Keep in mind that I hate doing touristy things. Crowds of people sitting back and taking pictures so they can say they went? Talk about hell.

But I wanted to see the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and whatever else our capitol had to offer. It took us about an hour to cruise through the World War II memorial, the Washington Monument, Lincoln's house, and the Vietnam Veterans memorial. I learned maybe two facts about each and called it a day. I had little patience for group tours and instead read pamphlets. None of these landmarks evoked the majesty of seeing a great building in Europe or gave me anything other than a sense of having completed a goal on my visit.

Don't get me wrong, I really wanted to see these landmarks, but maybe because we were there to also meet up with friends, it got distracting to try to hang out and to also soak in the significance of the sights. What could have been the significance though? Is staring at Lincoln's beautifully constructed right foot supposed to make me think of my childhood appreciation for him? Having now touched, and walked a circle around, the Washington Monument, can I say I did something important?

The thing that makes me think there is something to all of this is when we walked toward the Vietnam Veterans memorial. Dhonielle and I were chatting animatedly, as was everyone around us, but as soon as we crossed near the black granite wall, a hushed silence fell over everyone. We recognized we were walking through something important, even if we maybe couldn't exactly pinpoint what it was.

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