Friday, January 9, 2009
It's Just ONE Day!
A recent piece in the Washington Post reported on a few people living in our region who plan to get out of town before and during the upcoming inauguration. One lives in Penn Quarter downtown. I can understand his wish to get away because he'll likely have difficulty even getting his car out of his garage. Then there's the family in Fairfax Station, Virginia. Surely few if any of the expected thousands of buses will be grid-locked in front of their house. Yes, it will be hard getting around certain areas that day, but surely not impossible in the suburbs. Why panic? Some Old Virginians are riled because personal vehicles will not be allowed to cross any of the bridges into the District on 1/20. They see it as a slap in the face to the former heart of the Confederacy. Come on, people -- this is not a North/South thing! It's about security and avoiding chaos. Marylanders won't have it any easier than Virginians getting into and out of the town. The usual dearth of parking in the District will be exponentially worse. None of us wants to turn bridges, highways and streets into parking lots. As happens with any big event, there will be emergencies requiring ambulances, so let's leave room for them. Let us also remember that both Maryland and Virginia ceded land to form the District of Columbia. Virginia took back it's share which, incidentally, contains two major Potomac bridges. Was that a slap in the face to D.C. ? If those arguments fail to sway prevailing thought, consider the plight of those who live in the District of Columbia. IF we live in restricted area and normally park on neighborhood streets, we'll have to locate space elsewhere. IF someone living in the restricted areas wants to walk her dog, she cannot carry bottled water. Inconveniences; not a personal affront. D.C. residents have had worse messes to contend with. Remember when farmers from around the country drove their tractors into town to protest agricultural prices? They tore up our beloved National Mall and created mayhem for commuters, including pedestrians like myself. In the end, the farmers helped clear city streets following a snow storm and helped to repair the Lawn. Well before the farmers' arrival, tents sheltering occupants of 1968's Resurrection City protest were removed from the Mall. These strong, passionate souls had to contend with inches deep mud, dreadful weather and harassment. The Civil Rights Act and movement itself were strengthened by this brave act of civil disobedience. Of course residents were inconvenienced, but that goes along with living here. Rolling Thunder brings noise, choking air pollution and gridlock to our little burg every year. But oh, what a sight and sound -- Memorial Day wouldn't be the same without them! Just as every American has the right to petition our government, every American has the right to witness history in the making. If someone is so desirous of standing for hours in the cold to be a part of it, there are ways other than driving a private auto into the city to do that. As thrilled as I am about President-elect Obama's inauguration, I'm staying home, here in Foggy Bottom, to watch it on TV. When I was younger I stood, frozen in my boots, to catch a glimpse of new presidents. Spouse and I may walk over to the White House as the parade brings the Obama's that way. Maybe not. . . Planning ahead is really all that's necessary. Oh, and remember -- wear comfortable shoes and layers of clothing if you plan to attend. Unlike a surprise attack such as 9/11, inaugural events are well planned, organized and secure. We know well in advance where we cannot drive and what restrictions are placed on things we can carry into restricted areas. Nothing mysterious or panic-inducing there. It's just one day.