April 6, 2011
what it all means to me
I've never seen myself to be a flag-waving patriot, but then again, I don't put bumper stickers on my car, and I don't wear clothes with obvious logos. That doesn't mean I don't care about my country, and this week was certainly a reminder of that.
I've been in DC for the last four days for an Educational Policy Fellows seminar. If you're in education, it's worth looking into the EPFP program. We had some great speakers, met some incredible educators doing good work in other states, and spent a half day on Capitol Hill learning the workings of government.
One of our program leaders says something like this: "Knowledge is what remains when the experience is gone." I'm not sure how to make sense of what's left now that I'm at the airport waiting for my flight out, but I do have to say that I think it's our civic duty to visit our nation's capitol city and see all that it has to offer.
I have been to DC many times, but always for meetings that take up my day and leave me too tired to sightsee. I usually get to see a few things, but it's more like on the way to something and without deliberation or intention. This time was different:
I went to the Lincoln Memorial. It's a pretty incredible memorial to an important man. I have not much to say but to share a picture from my time with him:
After I left the Lincoln Memorial, I walked through the Vietnam Memorial. I didn't take any pictures. It all felt a little to sacred, really, to photograph. I saw a woman rubbing the name of her classmate from the wall. "He was just a kid," she told a passerbyer who asked whose name she was rubbing onto paper. Just a kid. The whole wall is a massive reminder of what a waste that war was. I'm glad it's there, so that we never forget (although I think we have already, haven't we?).
I also saw something I'd been wanting to see forever, a lesser known statue. There were no lines to this one. There was one family stopping for a snapshot, and an Air Force officer hanging around, having a phone call with some loved one about why he is going to Kuwait right now. That was it. The family left, and then it was just me and Al. I took his picture. See?
If you want to have some time with Einstein, he's hanging out these days at 2100 Constitution Avenue. He reminds us of his commitment to peace, his awareness of using science for good, and of the freedom we have had for so long in this country. He gives me hope. And, on the eve of a potential government shutdown and partisan bickering like never before, I need hope. So, I am forgetting about Michelle Bachman and debt ceilings and tea parties and budget deficits and all of that and choosing to let my knowledge linger on Einstein and this quote inscribed on the wall at the Library of Congress:
"Science is organized knowledge."