My rented bicycle in front of the Washington Monument flanked by blossomless trees.
Sent by my union to a legislative and political conference during the waning days of a truly historic, Congressional health care debate, I had three hours to kill before my return flight. The temperature approached 70 degrees, so I sought out the cherry blossoms.
Heading to the rental shop that abuts the Old Post Office Tower, I passed this rack of at-the-ready bicycles designed presumably for residents, not toursists like me.
Lincoln Memorial behind my rented bicycle.
Seeking blossoms at Haines Point, I came across this monument to the "BRAVE MEN WHO PERISHED IN THE WRECK OF THE TITANIC APRIL 15, 1912. THEY GAVE THEIR LIVES THAT WOMEN AND CHILDREN MIGHT BE SAVED. ERECTED BY THE WOMEN OF AMERICA"
But as I came through West Potomac Park it became clear there were no blossoms anywhere, only promising buds.
So, I wound my way back around the Tidal Basin toward the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. The weather was sublime, and I was ready to head back to my hotel, grab my luggage and head home. I'd be taking with me the experience of lobbying Congressmembers. I found champions of health care reform and scaredy cats both. But I was there as the ideals of caring for one another were solidifying again in America. Striding past "Kill the Bill" placards, I could feel that once again we were standing up for others and not just for selves. The cherry blossoms weren't out yet--perhaps appropriately--as health care hadn't yet passed, but I was hopeful as I pedal into the FDR Memorial.
Below is what I found. At first underwhelmed, I soon wanted to spend all day there. The sculptered relief wall moved me deeply and instantly. Were my tears for what we did under FDR's leadership, or for what we were about to do today in my adulthood under President Obama's leadership?
I'm not satisfied with the health care bill; I want a single payer system. But I am thrilled to be present when our country once again reaches out to those in need. While not the bill I'd write, it is one I embrace.
Here's a montage of the FDR Memorial:
"MORE THAN AN END TO WARS, WE WANT AN END TO THE BEGINNINGS OF ALL WARS"
Eleanor, and friends.
"THE ONLY LIMIT TO OUR REALIZATION OF TOMORROW WILL BE OUR DOUBTS OF TODAY, LET US MOVE FORWARD WITH STRONG AND ACTIVE FAITH"
An homage to dams. Great public works, but unfortunately fish-killing projects.
But then I came across this set of sculpted relief panels that just blew me away. Below are some close-ups of what I only at the end realized was a monument within a memorial. This was a monument to the Works Progress Administration (later renamed Work Projects Administration), the largest of the New Deal agencies.
Thank you, FDR.
When A. Philip Randolph met FDR in the Oval Office and asked him to desegregate the Armed Forces, FDR said he agreed but wouldn't do it. When Randolph asked why not, FDR replied that Randolph had to force him to do it with 10,000 protesters outside the White House so that Congress and the President could witness the demand. And so Randolph did, and FDR desegrated the Armed Forces. It is indeed up to us.
I pedaled back to return my bicycle and fly home, past cherry trees about to burst forth in blossoms.
Keep it blossoming,