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Posts Tagged ‘Remembering’

Today has been about remembering. I was completely unaware when booking the visit to Washington that it would be the Veteran’s Memorial Weekend and the 25th Anniversary at that. Thousands of people are in the city and it is estimated that about 600,000 bikers, all Veterans, with the motorbikes, would be in the city and the bikes would be processing around a central route during the day. The temperature was high, in the 90’sF and the mood among the people was extremely good natured.
As a pilgrim on the Camino, it was common experience to visit a village,town or city and discover that some form of religious celebration was taking place involving a procession through the centre with big crowds. It happened in two towns this year and also in Washington. However this was not a religious event, although the number of public prayers offered at various places was interesting. I would describe today’s festival more as political, for there seemed to be a strong political agenda regarding the release of prisoners of war (POW’s) and a call to investigate more the plight of those missing in action (MIA’s).
The city, especially the roads near to the White House and Congress, appeared to be completely taken over by the bikes, the procession lasting most of the afternoon. The noise of the bikes was close to deafening, as most were of the ‘custom-made’ variety. Indeed, it seemed that the whole 2nd hand market in Harley Davidson’s was present and correct together with their riders in leathers with Vet’s crests on them – quite a sight. As the procession continued it was interesting to see so many people there to cheer them on. They hold much public support.
In the midst of this I visited the Lincoln and Martin Luther King Memorials, 2 people who feature in my ‘heroes’ list. While at the MLK memorial, I took the opportunity to listen again to some of his speeches from my IPod and in reading some of Abe’s famous quotes in his memorial, I wondered where the vision was for this country at present? Both men had ideals and were able to articulate them and endeavour to work them out. I wondered how those ideals, which are still universal, are doing now? To what extent, if I agree with many of them, do I put into practice? I also wondered what I would go public with regarding my values and ideals?
By the way, no memorials for any women! No Rosa Parks statue, or will Hilary Clinton get a garden hut somewhere under a tree in The Mall one day? We can but hope.
Remembering – I am not one who loves such displays of raw power such as the bike procession and it reminded me of a military procession. I admit to not being a great lover of much of America’s foreign policy, but my attention was drawn to the individuals, the Veterans there and the price they had paid to go and fight wars for this country. Not having been much of a enthusiastic nationalist, I am not sure I could do that so easily myself, as I am usually too often at odds with my government, even though I love my country. Talking with some Vets, I was amazed at their willingness to respond to their government if it called on them. I respect their ability to do that, especially remembering that these people are the ones who returned, and they are also the physically and mentally able ones too.
Washington is replete with various war memorials. It is sobering to think of the number of conflicts this country has been involved in and the price paid by so many. Just behind the Lincoln Memorial is the Arlington Bridge, built by the command of Ol’ Abe, after the Civil War, to unite the Federal North with the Confederate South. I remembered the need for bridges and building them where there is the need, and of my commitment to build them, at every opportunity between people and communities.
The day ended quite beautifully. After dinner at a local Lebanese restaurant, while walking back to my hotel, I came across the funkiest brass band I have ever heard. They were playing various dance music songs with all the co-ordinated moves thrown in as well. Also of 8 musicians, 3 of them were young people. It was lovely to see the confidence not only to play with such freedom, but also perform to such a degree on the street with passers-by gathered around. We were on a street corner by a roundabout and after a while, it became quite a concert, with us all dancing until the lightning storm made us run away for cover. Wonderful!

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