a teatray in the sky

we mortals are but shadows and dust

Posted in 5D Mark II, Architecture, Penn Quarter, Photography, Washington, DC by firthefirst on May 12, 2010

there is a quiet little plaza across the street from the National Building Museum that few people walk through and few people think about.  it suffers from a disease pervasive in DC known as memorialitis:  when everyone and everything has a statue, plaque, or monument in its name, nothing really stands out.  the irony of america is it demands that everyone be deemed special, without realizing that when everything is special, nothing is really special anymore.

and that’s why, out of all the previous times that I’ve walked through the national law enforcement officers memorial, I’ve never really stopped to think about it.  it didn’t seem to have much to do with anything.  just a cold, solemn hulk of carved granite, mutely reciting names long forgotten.

but this day was different than the others.  for some reason or another (I suppose there can only be one reason really), on this day roses with plastic ID cards of several new jersey police officers were placed at the base of the memorial walls.  there was nothing glamorous about the display.  to each man, a single rose, a kinko’s laminating job, and a piece of blue painter’s tape.  and that meant more to me than all the carved stone in the world.

any job can be a tough job at times.  but serving in uniform is often the toughest and most thankless of all jobs.  why do people serve?  probably the same reason we all do our jobs.  pay the bills.  feed a family.  live up to our parents’ expectations.  sounded like a good idea at the time.  bit of fun.  thought it could help somebody.  make the world a better place.

of the few people I have known and met who have chosen to serve in uniform in service to the country, I’ve never met one who had to do a lot of soul searching before making that choice.  it came natural.  it’s just what they did, and it’s just what they do.  they make it look like an easy decision, and that leads some people to conclude it is an easy decision.  it’s not.  it’s a quiet, simple valor.  and in valor there is hope.

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