Current mood:contemplativeI took a walking tour with a couple of youngsters of Washington DC a while back. They were from Holland, the nephew and girlfriend of my best friend. They had specific ideas of what they wanted to see. But not enough time for everything (in fairness, to give all of the museums and sights in DC, it would take 2 weeks. We had a day and a half.), so we decided on what the really important things were. They say the hardest part of any journey is the first step. And off we went.
As soon as we took our first steps, all any of us could complain about was the cold. The wind would cut right thru you. Pull the hat and scarves right off of your head.
We walked, in the bitter cold, complaining about the wind, contemplating our next destination, while heading for our first. Dinner plans. Wanting to get inside, to thaw out.
I counted them. 21 steps. Slow and deliberate. From one end to the other. Stop. Turn. Change direction. 21 steps back.
All of a sudden all of our discomforts in the cold, became meaningless, as we stood, silently, watching the Guard walk his post, as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
He was cold. The same wind cut right thru him. He also thought of his dinner plans. Yet, he was not showing any outward sign of anything, but his concentration. Concentration on the 21 steps he was taking. The stop. Turn. And his return trip of 21 steps.
I watched the change in the expressions on the faces of the kids, as they watched this solitary Soldier, walk his post, guarding the men, who had came home.
In our pre-planning of this trip, the kids had asked me what I thought they would like to see in DC, to go with their list of things that they wanted to see (the Library of Congress. The Capitol. The White House - the 21 steps that the kids took, walking towards the White House, and almost getting the Capitol Police to stop them from getting any closer, is a story for another day). Even though, in hindsight it might have sounded selfish on my part, I had suggested Arlington Cemetary, and the National Archives. I thought as idealistic kids, they might want to see JFK, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. As a life lesson, I thought of the Guards.
We never made it to the Archives. Though the magnificent building at the LOC may generate the most conversation, I honestly think that the Guards, will generate the most thoughtful memories.
At least, in my own heart of hearts, I know this to be true. Better men than I am, endure the Honor and Privledge of keeping watch over other men, and women, who now rest in the arms of the Country they gave their lives, serving.
And I will sleep better knowing that they are there, watching over the rest of us.