In the fall of 2013 I made plans to go to Washington DC. Madeline and I drove to New Orleans where we boarded the Amtrak Train and made the two day and one night trip to DC. We had reserved a sleeper berth so it was a fairly easy trip. We arrived and got to our hotel. Madeline was only there for a short time, maybe a day, then she flew away to a meeting, to which I can’t even remember where, these 8 1/2 years later.
It was a little difficult getting around town on that trip. We had arrived right in the middle of the big Government Shutdown of 2013. I was there on business that was happening at the hotel where we were staying, so not being able to get around wasn’t such a big deal.
However I was fortunate that the shutdown happened when I was there. People seemed more trapped at the hotel, some two miles from the Capitol. It gave me much more access to people. We were all walking from one place to the other rather than riding the subway or taxi’s. I was able to talk to people walking down the street. It was a learning experience.
One morning we were told of a big rally at the Capitol. Several high profile politicians were going to be there and speak. I was able to meet and talk to a few, Senators and Representatives. They were very approachable at that time. Things seemed very different with the shutdown.
In fact after the rally, there was a big contingent of us that walked the length of the Washington Mall, picking up trash that had been strewn over the prior days, with no workers there to pick it up. Someone had the forethought to bring several boxes of large trash bags that they handed out.
We continued on as a group to the World War 2 Memorial. We found it was barricaded off, closed. A couple of buses of veterans arrived there to see it. I think it’s called The Honor Flight Network that has organized this over the years, giving WW-2 Veterans their only chance to ever see their Monument.
Several of us took it upon ourselves to start dragging barricades out of the way, allowing members of the Greatest Generation to go inside and see their monument and be recognized and photographed. I consider that act of defiance being one of the most significant things I’ve ever been a part of. Of course our act that day was not destructive in any way.
I’m not so sure the same thing would be allowed today. But seeing the relief on the faces of the organizers and the veterans that traveled far and wide getting there, it wouldn’t have mattered. It was their Monument. Not some politicians.
A day or so later I boarded a plane and flew back to New Orleans, got in my truck and headed back home.