Tuesday, December 13, 2005

the Jefferson Memorial

I was here, at one of Washington's most picturesque sites, just two nights ago. It may not get as much respect as the Lincoln Memorial or the Washington Monument, but it is my favorite. April parked the van to feed "L", who was in no mood to be a tourist, while "K" and I went up to the memorial itself. The sun had set, so we walked in darkness through the pedestrian plaza, past the cherry blossom trees, and around the memorial. "K" asked to step down and look at the waters of the Tidal Basin. We gazed across the water at the Washington Monument. I bent on my knees and pointed out the White House to explain that the statue was directly facing the presidential home.

We walked up the steps to the memorial itself, the dome reminiscent of Jefferson's own home. Scaffolding was around much of the structure but it didn't take anything away from the majesty of the place. The air was very still, and there was no one around save for "K", me, and a police officer at the bottom of the steps. I looked up at the towering statue and the top of the dome. I took photographs of the panels inscribed with some of Jefferson's most famous and celebrated writings, including the preamble of the Declaration of Independence. I read the words that encircle the rotunda: "I have sworn up the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

And I felt a chill that was not from the night air.

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