Wednesday, November 02, 2005

My Washington Diary

Cindy & Me 1, originally uploaded by Wazdat!.

For The Activist And The Tourista, It Was The Trip Of A Lifetime!

Day 1 Oct. 25, 2005

I started my sightseeing of DC today. Aside from the usual bickering of my family and my niece's Terrible Two's, my day in Washington was very much colored by the events of the day. I started by noticing the headlines of the Washington Post "Grand Jury Hears Summary of Case On CIA Leak Probe. Then we went down M St. to a nice Vietnamese place, where I was introduced to the succulent pleasures of roast quail! Anyone who had ham and maple syrup will understand me when I say: "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." I was in heaven! Then, on the way to the Mall, we came upon the State Department. Condi's Place. Already my sense of irony was in play.

As we were nearing the Lincoln Memorial, we went down to the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial. Imagine how appropriate it was to leave Condi's Digs and come upon a monument to another senseless war! As I saw the roster of all those dead men, l remembered a song by Eric Bogle called "The Green Fields of France.":

“Well, how do you do, young Willie McBride,
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside,
And rest for a while 'neath the warm summer sun,
I've been walkin' all day and I'm nearly done.

I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen,
When you joined the great fallen in nineteen sixteen,
I hope you died well and I hope you died clean,
Or young Willie McBride was it slow and unseen.

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down?
And did the band play The Last Post and Chorus?
Did the pipes play The Flowers Of The Forest?”

As I looked at that row upon row of names I saw many things. Things that told me how that war affected all races and classes. George and John Patton's names were there, I believe they were grandsons of Ol' Blood and Guts himself. I started looking for a few Ukrainian names. I may have found them. Names like: Wozniak, Ratajczak, Goszewsky and Dluzak. Some youth was tracing down a name, maybe a grandfather he never knew or a granduncle. I couldn't help but see the pattern. A war based on a lie, that wasted the lives of 58,000 men, and countless thousands of Vietnamese. I said to myself: "To the people, these are sons, fathers and brothers. To Dubya, these names are nothing more than scratches on a wall. Better make room for 2001 more names. " Then I thought: "Better make room for more." My mother said: "Nobody has learned anything from all this. Fifty Eight thousand men died needlessly, now this idiot has killed 2001 more."

Richard Wozniak could have been Polish, Czech or Ukrainian.

“I'm Willie McBride, I can't help wonder why
Do those that lie here know why did they die
And did they believe when they answered the call
Did they really believe that this war would end war.

For the sorrow, the suffering, the glory, the pain,
The killing, and the dying was all done in vain...
For, young Willie McBride, it all happened again,
and again, and again, and again, and again.”

I'll bet Mr. Ratajczak was a Ukrainian.

We saw the memorial to the black veterans, The Three Soldiers, those bewildered faces of men looking upon the names of their dead comrades, as they returned from a patrol long since over. I saw the face of Karl Rove, superimposed in my mind over these young boys. Rove the Spinner, the father to the lie that killed these young men's spiritual descendants.

We then proceded to the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial. The Washington Monument loomed in the horizon, dwarfing the Capitol that appeared to be beside it. How appropriate. The reality never measures up to the ideal. My sister-in-law reminded me that we were standing on the spot where Martin Luther King gave his "I Have A Dream" speech. I imagined the thousands that were there to see Cindy Sheehan, and thousands there, 50 years before for the Poor People's March, then my mind went to the paltry 100 that showed up for Melanie Morgan and her glorification of war.

I climbed the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial. Anyone for Everest? But I had to see the Big Guy. Was he sitting in judgement over Dubya? Was he saying "Get out of my party?" It was as if I was looking at Zeus. He was large. I was sad to see the scaffolding. Yet in these cynical times it was appropriate. Bush wanted to remake everything. Why not the statue?

Day 2 Oct. 26, 2005

It's the other side of the Mall today. The kids are behaving so far. Hey! I love'em even when they misbehave! Too bad they won't be able to appreciate what they see today. Five years from now they'll be looking at themselves in pictures and still be disappointed for not remembering.

I'm listening to CNN now at 11:38 AM. I can't help but think that Libby was being sacrificed to save Rove.

It's 12:57 PM. I just got back to the suite with my sister-in-law and my oldest niece from birthday buying for my youngest. 1 year old todayl. My present for me: Libby has been indicted! His worm has turned. Now let's see if squeezing it gives us Rove or Cheney?

1:10 PM Libby resigns as Cheney's Chief of Staff!

2:55 PM: Libby is indicted on 5 counts:

2 counts perjury, 2 counts false statements, 1 count obstruction of justice.

Fitzgerald will have to impound a new grand jury to investigate Rove further.

I had the tour of my life today. And it ended in a way nobody would've expected! We took a sightseeing drive today. After rounding the West Mall, we saw the Jefferson Memorial. Next we stopped at Capitol Hill. The Folger Shakespeare Library was to our left, but that's for tomorrow. We went right over to the Supreme Court, a grand edifice if ever I saw one. I never saw a universe of marble like that one before. All around us, marble floors, marble steps and marble columns!

And on the other side? The Capitol! We were bothered by the construction, so l suggested that we go up the Supreme Court steps and take the Capitol's picture from there. The sun was against us, but it made for a more dramatic shot. I was standing on the Supreme Court steps! Getting pictures of the Capitol!

About the White House: I was under the impression that there would be storm troopers surrounding the place! Razor wire! Machine gun turrets! With so many areas barricaded so that cars had no access, and the long time it took to get there, l thought that the best we would do is get a glimpse of it 3 blocks away. Little did I know how close we would get! I thought we were lucky enough to get to Jackson's statue, but then I saw people walking on the grass and the sidewalk! So we ventured further! Taking pictures galore! I took a few pictures of my sister-in-law, she took one of me. All in front of the White House!

That's me!

Now our van was standing in a no-parking-after-4-zone, so my sister-in-law went back to take her turn waiting in the van. I stayed behind to go to the gate, and get the best damn White House pics you've ever seen! I also paid attention to the protesters. I talked with them. Told them to take heart because we kept the message alive in the hinterlands.They asked me where I was from. I said "Syracuse" I found out that one guy came from Cleveland, but had a son in Syracuse. The signs where fabulous! One guy was riding a scooter named "Libby!'' I went across the street to take a picture from the fence.

Then I turned around, and there she was! I knew that face was familiar! That worn out woolen hat and the dowdy brown coat! Those sunken cheeks! I asked her, "Excuse me, are you Mrs. Sheehan?" She said, "Please, call me Cindy." I told her about how we were doing things in Syracuse, that we were doing things there! Then I asked her if I could take her picture. She said yes! I was in nirvana! Ecstasy! Then I was looking for my brother, to give him the good news. I saw him across the street. I went over after he took a shot and told him: "I saw Cindy Sheehan!'' He says; "Where?" "Across the street!" So we went back to the fence, and I found Cindy again getting her picture taken, and we asked her if my brother could get a picture. He wanted ME to get in the picture WITH HER! So we clasped each other behind our backs, and I got an heirloom to treasure! Afterward we went back to the van. I couldn't wait to give everyone the news! We got to the van. I was bursting with the news! But my brother couldn't wait either, so he called ahead. When we got to the van, everyone was excited, begging us to show them the shots. My mother was lit up like the Washington Monument at night!

This is a moment I will remember the rest of my life!

Friday, Oct. 29, 2005

Today was the day to find out the price a nation pays for it's history.


A vast sea of white tombstones.
I was in history mode. You see, here you don't get the feeling that people died for all the wrong reasons. Yes I'm aware that many of the men buried here died in Indian wars, robbing a people of their land. Many others died in questionable actions that may have caused terrible suffering. Yet all that is washed over at Arlington. You remember the good fights, the ones that mattered, where the civilian soldiers put in their two cents. The Revolutionary War, where we fought for independence, 1812, where we defended this country from foreign aggression. The Civil War, where we freed a race from slavery, and decided what the nature of our country would be. World War Il, the Korean War, where each time, we saved the free world from totalitarian aggression. I wanted to say to my oldest little niece, "this is your heritage. These people earned you your future." I remembered that line of Tom Hanks's from "Saving Private Ryan" as he lay dying. He said to Matt Damon: "Earn this!"

I was there, at Kennedy's Eternal Flame. I sorted a few things out. Kennedy and Lincoln weren't the only presidents to be assassinated. Arthur, Garfield, McKinley, all met an untimely demise. What made Kennedy and Lincoln different was that they died for their courage, for trying to create a country they, and we all, could believe in. They died with the courage to be themselves in the toughest job in the world. They were . I wonder what people will say a hundred years from now about Dubya. Maybe he'll make it to Arlington on a technicality. The Texas National Guard might pull some strings.

I next went to see the Changing of The Guard at the Tomb of The Unknowns. It is a slow, silent process. The occasion is supposed to be solemn, to make us understand the giving of the last full measure of devotion for your buddies, and your country. Every life given in every one of our wars was a valued life, one that held great promise before it was cut short, and should not have been taken needlessly. Of course, that is a lesson lost on the present management of this country.

Sunday, Oct. 30, 2005:

Today I was a total tourist! After all it was Museum Day, the last full day of our vacation in DC. Our targets were the National Air & Space Museum, and the National Gallery of Art. We walked a few blocks to Foggy Bottom Station and took the Orange Line to L'Enfant Plaza. There we left for the Air and Space Museum Large plains were suspended from the ceiling. Two Mercury capsules were standing at each side of the entrance.

We started by going to the space section. The first thing I saw when I entered the room was a giant V2 rocket. On the other side was one of the Skylabs. In the middle were the Lunar Command Module, and the Soyuz spacecraft that rendezvoused in 1976. I got more than one shot of the entire V2 rocket! We have pictures of the LLM replica. We saw the enormous boosters for the Saturn 5 rocket, the original Wright brothers plane, and the Spirit of Saint Louis.

After that, we went across the Mall to theNational Gallery, old master's building. We stopped in the middle of the Mall to take pictures of the Capitol.

I have a picture of a Van Gogh self-portrait.

I found "Portrait of A Lady," by Jan Van Eyck!

Did I say that I, a Democrat finally saw Dubya?

Well, I saw 3 Hueys flying south past the Washington Monument anyway! They all looked like Marine One! I think the one in middle might’ve been the one.

By the way, you should see the National Gallery’s ornate brass drinking fountains!

Cindy Sheehan

Washington DC

Vietnam Veteran's Memorial

Washington Monument

Lincoln Memorial

The Three Soldiers

Supreme Court

US Capitol

Arlington National Cemetery

National Air and Space Museum

National Gallery of Art

1 comment:

enigma4ever said...

Thanks for showing us your trip and the wonders of DC- what the hell are they doing to Lincoln ? He is all boxed in with scaffolding....It must have been surreal to meet Cindy... It was reassuring to know that one can still get that close to the White House with us living in a Police State and all...Keep blogging it...