Thursday, March 4, 2010

Poignant Opportunity

The dismal weather has continued. Despite my plans to go out into the wild and see more of the outdoor wonders of this city and the surrounding area, I have remained largely confined to indoor pursuits on account of the weather. So I will have to wait to see and experience more of the outside world as things warm up a bit more. 

I did have a few days with some sun last week, though I had to work for most of it. I did have the notable exception of getting to go to Harpers Ferry with the Park Service and learned a great deal more about the story of John Brown and his attempted revolt and attack upon the armory there. It was a great taste of the area, but not enough to truly appreciate it. It is a beautiful region of the country, centered upon the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers and it is now on my list of places to go back to and experience more fully! The Appalachian Trail runs right through the same area, and the exploration of the same has also become a priority for me come warmer weather. 

Thankfully, though I have not been able to explore outdoors, I have not been housebound, and have still been able to take advantage of opportunities to see and appreciate both our culture and our history. As of today I have officially viewed every display in both the American History and Natural History Smithsonian Museums. It took me four visits to the former and three to the latter in order to do so, but I have succeeded in that task. I also ran the mall yesterday, beginning at the American History Museum, going all the way down to the Capitol, back the other way to Lincoln, and returning to the museum, making a full circuit of the mall. I ran in the mist and my knee has pained me today, but I made it all the way, without giving in. 

Tonight I went to a special screening of the film, "Food, Inc." at the National Archives. Sometimes there are special perks to living in the Nation's Capitol! I also completed a week long class to become certified to respond in a disaster situation through a program called CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) under the department of Homeland Security and FEMA. I will be going to a second class beginning this next Tuesday. 

So I am certainly keeping busy! And every day offers further opportunities to connect with visitors and help them to appreciate and understand the meaning behind what they are seeing. One moment of special poignant significance for me came on Sunday at the Jefferson Memorial, where a young woman from London came and requested a talk. It turned out she was the only one interested so I spoke to her about Jefferson, the promise and ideas this country is founded upon, and the principle and values of freedom and equality that lie at the core of humanity.  She had an eager mind and a unique perspective because she was actually born in Paris and grew up in France, but was now living in London (and she also happened to be ridiculously cute! :). She was well versed, not only in French history, but in American as well, and we engaged in dialogue about such topics as the French Revolution, the Louisiana Purchase, and Napoleon for more than half an hour. It made me realize very clearly how significant what I am doing really is. This is so much more than simply explaining how a memorial was built. I have the opportunity here to resonate with the very principles and values that give meaning to our lives and direction and purpose to our existence. It doesn't matter if you are an American or a French girl transplanted to Britain, these sites and this city have deep meaning and significance and represent the best parts of who we are, not as a nation, but as citizens of humanity. 

May these principles never lose their luster and poignant meaning as they stand immemorial, forever immortalized here, in the center, not only of this nation, but of the modern world.   

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