while ryan, charlotte, and i were walking back from the lincoln memorial, we stumbled across a scene that surprisingly moved me to tears. at first, we wondered if it might have been staged, but after considering the likely-hood of the random events (high), and confirming with gina, apparently these sorts of things happen all the time.
it started with a limo, a wheel-chair bound veteran in dress uniform, his family, a couple of handlers, and a 2 person camera crew. I fail at wars and timing and determining people’s ages, but i’d say he were probably from the korean war or WWII. i’m not sure what their purpose was, but if i had to guess, it was some sort of documentary or perhaps anniversary celebration. nobody was making a big deal about it, so he must not have been someone “famous.” the group slowly made their way from the limo to the washington memorial. on the way, they were interrupted by 3 marines who were jogging along the mall. one by one the men stopped, bent over the veteran, shook his hand, and thanked him for his service. as they resumed their jog, one of the handlers stopped them and thanked them, saying how much their gesture touched the vet. the marines were as humble with the handler as they were respectful with the vet.
the cynic in me wondered if it was staged, but the amount of randomly jogging marines and other military personnel makes the random occurrence highly plausible. except for the marines, who logically moved with purpose, everyone else who took part in the scene seemed slightly disoriented by the interruption. i then attempted to make sense of it by convincing myself that the amount of conditioning that comes with belonging to the armed forces was the major reason the marines stopped. there were simply trained to. i couldn’t shake the look on one of the marine’s face or the sound of his voice from my mind however, and i finally gave into the feelings i was trying to avoid. i’m still not sure exactly what they were. i think that patriotism, or just a general feeling of pride in the military specifically, is so alien to me that i really didn’t know how to express them or feel them properly. i experienced something similar to when i see or hear something that is overwhelmingly beautiful. it’s a sort of this primal, almost painful, burst of “something” in my chest/throat that causes me to tear up.
as i suspected, being in DC made me wish i was a better student of american history, civics, and current political issues. there was no moment that i felt that more keenly than watching the marines and the veteran in the shadow of the washington monument.