Monuments, funerals, and a flying disease wagon.

Martin Luther King MonumentAfter the Air Force Monument we headed to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s. The statue is a stern one, and I felt it highlighted the severe nature of the struggle more than his compassion. Though it honestly reminded me a bit of the Soviet monuments I saw in the Baltics, I would be more offended by a fluffy-light monument, and the quotes engraved on the wall behind him are a clear testimony to the caliber of the man.

I was in Washington DC for the funeral of my step-grandfather. After a career in the military spanning three wars and three decades, his ceremony was held at Arlington National Cemetery, with full military honors. I may not agree with every one of those conflicts, but it is a clear thing to honor the life of someone who gave so much of themselves.

The ceremony was held on a chilly morning of crisp air and even crisper salutes, and the 21 shots from the honor guard were felt as much as heard. The familiar taps military funeral melody was suddenly far more poignant than I’d ever heard it as it echoed over the headstones of generations of servicemen and women. We drove out past tombstones from World Wars I and II, rows with dates only days apart in 1864, and some reading simply “civilian.”

It’s a sobering place to be, and I can only hope that our leaders will rise to be worthy of these sacrifices. Lobbyists and profiteers need not apply.

The primary occupation of my time however was meeting the step-family, which proved to be an entertaining endeavor. Faces bearing familiar resemblances spoke with accents from New York to rural Texas. They have some strong women in that branch! Why not climb Mt Kilimanjaro for one’s 60th birthday, and why not still swim half a mile at age 91? You go, gyrlz!

My brother and I went for some quick sightseeing our last morning. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to remove the pocketknife from my bag when I left home. Having a thumb-sized precluded me from entering 95% of that most fearful city, and I was not allowed to even wait inside the building while my brother checked out an exhibit by Ai Weiwei.

Ai Weiwei Chinese ZodiacLuckily there was a work in the courtyard.

The flight home featured some impressive turbulence over Missouri, nearly sufficient to overwhelm the symphony of enthusiastic coughing that erupted relentlessly from bronchial tubes all around me. One guy behind me apparently believed that the key to coughing was not just the expulsion of air, but the simultaneous vibration of the vocal cords, so he basically shouted his coughs.

So this morning I am nursing a waterfall of a nose and squishy sneezes. Three cheers to an unending cup of hot green tea.