A Memory of Enduring

Before my eleventh birthday, my late Grandad took me to Washington, DC. It was now my turn to see the nation’s capital — my brother had preceded me on such a trip with my grandfather simply by dint of seniority and age.

My grandfather had a good friend there who lived in Washington’s Black middle class neighborhood.

In fact, for all I could tell at ten and a half years old, all of Washington, DC was populated by Black folks — most, if not all of whom seemed to have government and civil service jobs.

It was a wondrous visit; my grandfather’s friend seemed to know everyone in everyplace in the District. We traveled to the Washington monument; to the Lincoln Memorial, where only a year or so earlier, Martin King had mesmerized the Nation with his American “sermon on the mount.”

His friend soon had me standing inside the walls of the Treasury watching dollars being printed; and we rode the old golf-cart conveyance machines around the Pentagon. We would visit the somber and tiny Petersen House where Abraham Lincoln drew his last breath.

And, before we would leave and travel South back to his home in North Carolina, we would stand at the Tomb of the Unknown and walk through Statuary Hall.

My memory of the Capitol is, of all the places we visited, the least distinct — it seemed to be filled with figures who had entered history and somehow never left its stage. They were still present looking on at the progress of America; watching to see what became of this experiment, yet speaking no words.

But, they too peered down at a small boy from Minnesota, as did Abraham Lincoln seated and looking on to see if the Nation truly would endure — if his own last measure of devotion might be fully remembered by Freedom’s offspring.

They too knew struggle, and bloodshed and ordeal. And they too endured. They now must be wondering if we will remember.

-atg