Saturday, November 23, 2013

mlk memorial

Around noon today I was feeling very tired.  I was at a conference in the nation's capitol and one of the panels I wanted to see had been at 8a.m.  For reasons related to the number of attendees and the time when I registered (more than a month ago) there were no rooms left at the conference hotel. This meant I was staying over a mile away and my wakeup for the 8 a.m was much earlier than I would have wanted it to be. I am an early riser. Just don't move so fast when I rise early.

All this is to explain that when I came back from the session and some other activity at the conference, I was more tired than I typically am on a Saturday at noon.  I'd done a full day of conferencing the day  before on Friday so, lying on the hotel bed seemed like a fine thing to do.

But something had been on my mind. I'd been told to make sure to see the new Martin Luther King Memorial.  I knew this would be a good idea, but could not get my mind to move my body.  Finally, I got off my back, packed up, and went to the lobby for a cab.

I am not a museum sort of guy.  Typically, I get antsy within forty minutes of a trip to a museum. The Museum of Fine Arts is literally across the street from where I work and I have been there about ten times in over thirty years.  And at least three of those times I was there because there was a function of some sort sponsored by my university. So, museums are typically not stimulating.

Memorials are not quite in the same category. The first time I saw the Vietnam Memorial I was surprised at how I reacted. And the Lincoln Memorial with the Gettysburg address engraved on the wall can bring tears to your eyes even if you know the speech by heart.

Still, despite my experience with memorials, I was surprised at how powerful the Martin Luther King memorial is.  There was a park ranger there who, on the hour, gave talks to those who gathered. I was easily the oldest in the crew there, and the only person there who was more than a child when King delivered the 63 speech.  The ranger pointed out some things that I found interesting about the reason for the Memorial's shape.  If it had not been getting cold, I might have stuck around and become more educated.  However, after his initial spiel I peeled off from the group and took in the Memorial by myself.

There are King quotes on the wall surrounding the main part of the Memorial. The statue of King will make even the most cynical among us involuntarily mutter "wow".  Very large and it blends in with the sky. The Memorial is intentionally set right in line with the Lincoln and Jefferson monuments.  All three leaders made the same claim in their Gettysburg address, Declaration of Independence, and I Have a Dream rhetoric:  All of us are created equal.  If you go to the nearby Lincoln Memorial you can see an engraving at the spot where King delivered the 63 speech.

When you don't do things, you don't know what you missed.  When you do things that you were considering not doing, you--or at least I--think that I would have been foolish had I not done what I was considering not doing. Going to the King Memorial was wise.  If you have not seen it and find yourself in DC and are hanging around in a hotel room tired and thinking that you need the rest---get off your back and go see the memorial especially if you've not seen the others that are nearby.

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