Sunday, September 27, 2009

People Watching

Last Thursday I enjoyed some prime people watching. After I picked-up my college roommate and her visitors from France, we headed over to Arlington Cemetery, a place they specifically wanted to see. Being an emotional type, I no longer do Arlington nor the Viet Nam Memorial. Anyway, as the menage a trois took off to hike to the Kennedy graves, I hung out in the visitors' center. Previously, I'd only been in the administrative building, waiting to proceed with an interment of ashes in the columbarium. Everyone there was solemn and quiet. The visitors' center is a bright and airy gateway to enter and exit the cemetery. Moving photographs from events at Arlington line the walls of a central rotunda. I sat on a wooden bench across from a huge photograph taken at JFK's graveside the day he was buried. People were visibly moved by it and a tiny model of the funeral cortege in a case under the photo. I heard familiar languages and a few I couldn't identify. Every shape, size and ethnicity of human being came through. There were even a few gender-benders, too. I suppressed giggling at a young teenaged boy wearing hightops that looked several sizes too big. They were loosely strung with acid green and orange laces. He looked so intently at the photos while subconsciously fondling his very young looking girlfriend. To be expected, there were plenty of old-timers, too. Some were bent by age, while others strode purposefully through the building. Clearly, many of them were vets. I couldn't help but think about my Dad and how he waited until his last days of life to reveal any of his wartime experiences to his children. I wondered if these men and women were living the same, repressed lives. I hope not . . .

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