It seems trite to comment on what transpired at the Capital this past January 6, but this is my home, and I feel an obligation.
In ’79 when I first moved to Washington, DC, during the work week at noon I would run down 5th Street turned west past the Washington Monument, climb the hill, move on past the Reflecting Pool, turn left at the Lincoln Memorial following the river heading for Haines Point. My two bosses did the same route.
In the springtime when the cherry blossoms turned the Tidal Basin white, still running, I’d worked around the tour bus crowds so thick I’d take to the roadway to get around clouts of them.
It was better in a freezing snowstorm sliding and picking my way–like being in church in the white silence with the Potomac icing over out past the trees. Only people I’d see would be other hardy locals, and we’d nod or wave our greetings. When Washington was buried in snow, it was a religious experience.
Or when I worked in Georgetown, and the route became M Street under the Whitehurst Freeway, riverside past the Kennedy Center, left up the Mall two miles to the Capital, climb the cascading steps to the top while the bored Capital Policeman–usually Black–silently eyed me. I’d nod, turn around to take in a sweet sunset and trot back down the way I came.
Rock Creek Park, the National Zoo past the wolf run, every single museum, Martin Luther King Boulevard in Anacostia, Georgetown, GW Parkway from one end to the other, C&O tow path, the Manassas battlefields, Old Town. There’s not an area of this town I haven’t run, biked or hiked through.
In the summer, after work we played softball on the Mall, mid-life athletes, we’d bring our coolers filled with beer, setting them down on the gravel path near home plate in the middle of the Mall to swing at balls until the sun went down. Park police might stroll by, pause to watch without commenting on the beer as long as we weren’t disorderly.
Leaving the Metro entrance at the Armory we’d join the flood of people making our way to RFK Stadium to rock the house and watch Joe Theismann take another game, watch Riggins carrying the ball with defenders riding him like a horse to one more first down. Then after the game we’d stroll back through the Black neighborhood feeling we belonged because everyone was wearing red and gold enjoying the city we were all part of.
On cold winter runs we’d head from Arlington Courthouse across Memorial Bridge into DC to view the national Christmas tree and the decorations in Lafayette Park, then turn around and go back across the river, climb the hill to Steve’s office where we’d have a pot luck dinner, some fifteen to twenty men and women stinking up the space and we were happy.
Life was good in our town.
9/11 changed our lives with all of the traffic barriers going up. We locals all witnessed the Pentagon burning firsthand–two miles at most from where I worked in Shirlington. Worse was the lingering smell of death and burning jet fuel that made you nauseous.
People not from Washington say the Pentagon is a place of generals and admirals. We locals know the everyday people from Maryland and Virginia make their long commutes to and from there, our neighbors, some of whom died in that insanity.
Though after 9/11, we were still one country.
Now with the sedition of homegrown traitors, DC will never be the same. In all the years with all the demonstrations–even when U Street burned in the 60s riots–we’d never seen anything like a traitor carrying a Confederate battle flag stride through the Capital rotunda, and seditious middle aged women screaming they were marching to kill other Americans.
To the Blacks of South Carolina for nominating Biden I say ‘thank you.’ You settled what might have become another four years wandering in the desert. And to Georgia, the same. I say thank you to Governor Kemp, Secretary Raffensperger and the rest, thank you for standing up to the tyrant. That wasn’t easy, but you did your duty.
Back when Obama was in office, being local, I thought I should send him an invitation. So now that he and Michelle have been freed of the White House, I’ll extend it: we have a place on a lake just across the Potomac from DC. With a ponderously slow pontoon boat. But if you want to sit under the stars at night removed from the traffic and noise, we have the place. Oh, and you can invite the new guy and his California woman.
We’ve never met any of ya’ll but that’s OK. We’re local.