At DFW, an ovation and cheers for our troops
Bill Cooke

Neighbor Grover sez he made a fitness video of himself exercising and named it “Pumping Rust.”

An August vacation in Washington DC, Peg and I thought, would be a cool get-away from the Texas heat.

Wrong, sweaty pits.

Folks, it was hot as Texas in DC and Baltimore. It was a first trip to the nation’s capitol for Peg and I, and we are still trying to catch our breath from trying to see everything in that city in three full days. We came pretty close to doing just that, and on the Lifestyle page (1B) you’ll find a pictorial report on the War Memorials on the National Mall, plus Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Those memorials were No. 1 on my bucket list, but we were able to take in a lot more, including tours of the Capitol, the Librar y of Congress, the National Archives, several Smithsonian museums including the Air and Space Museum which is the most-visited museum in DC and features everything from the Kitty Hawk to modules of today’s space travel.

Art by Cirilo Castello, a junior at Rockdale High School. Art by Cirilo Castello, a junior at Rockdale High School. At the National Archives, we stood in our longest line (it was well worth it) to see the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, all heavily encased behind thick glass in subdued lighting.

It was quite a thrill to read the words on those documents again and to realize how much thought went into them. Those founding fathers had a specific vision for this country, based on basic freedoms we take for granted today.

Just between me and you, I did not read a single thing on those documents instructing members of Congress to feather their own nests, spend this country into oblivion, to burden our grandchildren with debt, and to regulate the free out of free enterprise.

But I digress.

A guard stood right next to the Declaration of Independence. Someone asked him: “Do they really lower these documents into a basement vault each night for security?”

The guard shook his head and answered, “No, that was only in that movie.” He had obviously answered that question many times since the 2004 film National Treasurers, where Nicholas Cage and others conspired to steal the Declaration in an elaborate plot.

I saw that movie at home some time back and was not particularly impressed with it, but now that I’ve been to the Archives I wouldn’t mind seeing it again.

Incidentally, there are many people who do believe those documents are lowered into a vault each night after closing.

We rode get-on, get-off doubledecker tour buses to see many of the museums and memorials. But our primary means of locomotion at the National Mall was on foot, in 95-degree heat and high humidity. For us Texans, it was just like being at home.

The Vietnam and Korean war memorials are on the Lincoln Memorial end of the mall. The relatively new World War II memorial, by far the largest, is on the Washington Monument end of the mall. They are all very well designed. —bc—

Flying back to Texas, we had a stopover at Dallas-Fort Worth International. While we were waiting on our connecting flight, people in the terminal came to their feet, began cheering and applauding.

Above us, on a ramp, military personnel were walking in to catch a flight. I don’t know if they were returning from a deployment or leaving for one, but it was a wonderful, emotional moment. The standing ovation lasted from the moment the first soldier entered until the last was out of sight.

Sometimes we get it right.

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2010-09-02 digital edition

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