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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Prelude to Memorial Day

End of the day at Arlington House

I saw a YouTube video of Joshua Bell playing a Stradivarius at a Washington D.C. Metro stop, and I remember how almost nobody passing by had the inclination to stop and listen. So when I was ejected from Union Station on the crest of a wave of Friday morning commuters and heard the soaring tones of a violin echoing off the granite stones of the loggia, I made a point to drop some money in the anonymous street musican's violin case and take time to listen...just in case. Now I don't know if the violin being used was worth 3.5 million dollars or not, but for a while, the music coming from it was lonely and poignant and hopeful as it drifted out from the cool shadows into the dawning day.

Eventually, the music changed in character, demonstrating (to my uneducated ear) the worst excesses of Jr. High drum solos, and so I reluctantly walked on, fearful that the Gustafson's, my paragons of culture, would be disappointed in my artistic refinement (if they were watching).

It was an odd feeling for me to walk down streets populated with iconic buildings that borrow their architectural glory from the golden age of Greece...

Man Controlling Trade
...and sculptural adornments that seem relentlessly pro hubris.

Nothing like a stroll through the museum of natural history... provide a sense of context...

 ...across the panorama of deep time.

Given the constraints of our universe, it is inspiring to see the benefits that self-conscious primates have recently leveraged from nature through exploration and experimentation.

" small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind." 

Washington Monument
(Under repair for damage sustained in  2011 earthquake)

It is easy to become cynical about this country, when news cycle after news cycle focuses on the fraternity of ass-hats in congress...but then unexpectedly, the sacrifices of so many pierce my heart like a sharp obsidian spear point...and I wander mute before a wall of witnesses who testify that America is worth fighting for.

The all new eternal flame. 100% more eternal than the old one? Only time will tell. 

The changing of the guard ceremony
at the Tomb of the Unknown soldier

A delegation representing Lehman School places a wreath
at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Sometimes, hiding behind a camera, I'm detached and objectively analyzing the things I photograph. By this time, I had spent the better part of two days confronting the memorials and monuments strewn across the national mall, many of them inscribed with ideals that are yet imperfectly realized...

...and here, at Arlington Cemetery, as the melody of Taps spilled out of a single bugle and propagated over the crowd and ever outward, I strategically - out of necessity - placed a finger at the corner of my eye, shocked to discover I'm a sentimental patriot of sorts.

"It is not easy to see how the more extreme forms of nationalism
 can long survive when men have seen the Earth in its true 
perspective as a single small globe against the stars."

- Arthur C. Clarke

1 comment:

  1. Growing up less than a day's drive from DC, we spent much time there when I was a child. It's always amazing to discover how my perceptions of it have changed over the years.

    A beautiful series, Scott.


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