My Country Tis of Thee…
——photo taken from sidewalk in front of Phoenix Park Hotel
I’m not really sure if my starting this adventure (blogging on Posterous) on July 4th is pure accident or serendipity. I’ve just been home from Washington, DC for about three days now and it’s great to be back on Flat Creek. However, there’s something about prowling the halls of the Senate and House office buildings and just being in the US Capitol that has moved and inspired me more in recent times.
I’ve spent most of my adult life in government service; 30 years with Kentucky state government and a couple of wild years with the feds, my career with FEMA culminating about six weeks before Hurricane Katrina. I’m grateful for the maturity I gained under God’s watchful eye and protecting hand during that time. I also thank God for allowing me to continue to experience the extraordinary things that have made me who I am.
I made my first trip to DC a little over 2 decades ago and didn’t enjoy the experience. While there to show a “multi-media” presentation (big slide show with multiple projectors, effects and an elaborate audio track) a co-worker took the van out to visit a friend of his in Chevy Chase. I recieved a call at my hotel early next morning that the truck had been broken in to and much of the very expensive equipment taken. That and a few other brushes with rude people in crowds left me wanting little to do with our Nation’s Capitol. The Metro was pretty new at the time and horror stories about subways even kept me from riding it.
Fast forward 20+ years and now I’m resonably comfortable traveling around DC. I’ve been there twice in the past two months. With maturity on my part came a totally new appreciation for the city, its beauty and its heritage.
The earlier reference to the Metro has relevance, trust me!
After marathon meetings with the USDA Tuesday regarding funding of the NRSP-7 (soon to be known as the Minor Use Animal Drug Program,) I made a mad dash about 4 blocks down the street to Le`Enfant Plaza to catch the Metro back to Reagan Airport for my flight out that night. I blame the ensuing events on fatigue as much as anything else.
After buying a Metro pass, I headed off to board the Green line for a 10 minute ride to Reagan. Unfortunately I didn’t pay close enough attention and wound up on the Yellow line, not realizing my mistake for about 15 minutes. When reality set in, I discovered myself in Anacostia, VA and disembarked for a trip back to Le’ Enfant to start the journey all over again!
This time, as I waited for the GREEN Line, I engaged one of my fellow travelers in conversation in order to confirm that I actually was getting on the correct train! He was a commuter who worked for Housing and Urban Development and was on his way home. (Oh, I neglected to mention that all this was taking place during rush hour!) As we boarded the CORRECT train, we continued our conversation and he asked me where I was headed. I guess the suitcase and questions about Reagan airport tipped him off that I wasn’t from around there. When I told him I was on my way back to Kentucky, he mentioned that he had served a short time during his military career at Fort Campbell on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line. There followed a most cordial discourse for the next 10 minutes or so until we bid each other farewell and I exited the train at Reagan.
All this serves to illustrate just how wrong perceptions can be. I carried a negative opinion of Washington for a number of years, thinking it crime-ridden (which it can be) and unfriendly (which can also be the case.) However, a better attitude has evolved allowing me to embrace the positives the city has to offer. This trip I enjoyed the scenery and the atmospere, met new friends and even had a chance encounter with an old acquaintence. Sure, the Potomac still smells bad on a hot, humid day, but this roller coaster called life has it’s definite ups and downs. As hard as it is for a guy like me who sees the glass half empty most of the time, it’s best just to pull down the bar, hang on and enjoy the ride. (How’s that for mixed metaphors?!?!?!?)