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Monday, May 26, 2008

Where old voices still speak

The other evening my friend Peter and I found ourselves having a private chat with Congressman John Lewis. After a few minutes, the conversation turned to life in our nation's capital. Peter and I both remarked that the time we have spent as visitors to that city has impressed on us its grace and power as the working center of our vast and equally beautiful nation.

He and I told stories about experiences we have had on the Capitol Mall, as we visited the various monuments and memorials. For us rubes from the upper left coast, some of those moments bordered on religious experiences.

I didn't know what to expect from Lewis by way of a reply, but what he said was telling. He, too, gets the same rush from walking that ground -- so much so that he and some other members of Congress hike around the various memorials themselves from time to time, just to get back in touch with what brought them to Washington in the first place. "We'll go up to the Lincoln Memorial, just to see what he's saying today."

For me, of all the Mall monuments, one stands alone. I'm sure my perception has something to do with my age, but the person who created it got it exactly right:

Comments (5)


Remember how controversial that design was, before it was built? Remember the way it was slagged as a "black gash," a "scar" on the Mall?

It's beautiful and it never fails to make me tear up as I read the names and look at the flowers, notes, and gifts brought by loved ones.

May Lin has never done better than her Vietnam Memorial. She is, however, going to have another chance.

Lin won the design competition for the memorial when she was 21 and still an undergraduate at Yale. Amazing.

It's an even more powerful experience to visit the "Wall" when there are names inscribed there of people you once knew and went to school with.

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