Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Historic Moment by Chance

Sometimes you find yourself in the wrong place at the right time. Yesterday was just one of those moments.

As my son Dan and I followed Joe Biden’s motorcade on Rock Creek Parkway late yesterday afternoon, I wondered where he was going. As we passed the Kennedy Center and headed toward Memorial Bridge on our way home via Whole Foods, it occurred to me that he was headed to Arlington Cemetery for Ted Kennedy’s funeral.

Approaching the Lincoln Memorial we saw crowds of people lining the street and then we were stuck as the third car behind a cop on a motorcycle. We quickly decided to make the most of the occasion. I handed Dan my camera and told him to snap pictures while I waited with the car.

After a few minutes, a guy with a good camera who had been perched up on the wall behind my car approached and said, “I have a perfect view of the Memorial, those people holding the flag, and the duct tape on the side of your car. Could you back up about 15 feet?”

I could have reminded him that my car is a one-of-a-kind that would lend interest to his shot, but instead I dutifully backed up into the space left by someone who had made an illegal U-turn on a one-way street and somehow escaped waiting.

People were friendly, sharing their thoughts about the Kennedy’s as though they were everyone’s nextdoor neighbors. Here’s Dan watching for the funeral motorcade, which would make its way from the Capitol to the Cemetery.

Finally the entourage rolled past. There was the hearse containing the casket. There were cops and emergency vehicles of all sorts.

There were people like John Kerry, who looked straight at us as he said, “Thank you for coming out to honor Senator Kennedy.” Little did he know our visit was unplanned.

There were buses from Massachusetts carrying the extended Kennedy family, people of all ages. We saw Caroline in the first such bus.

It made the whole Camelot setting of decades all that much more tangible as they passed by while we waited on the curb, waving and snapping pictures. They represented the end of an American era that had captured the hearts of people on both sides of the aisle for so many years.

Farewell, Ted! I’m so glad we happened by to pay our final respects.


Anonymous lr said...

And to think in January your paths crossed, too, when you were on the floor above his in the hospital.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

LR -- It was Ted Kennedy who was in the WHC penthouse a couple of floors above me in January! But yes, our paths did cross then as well.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

What amazing timing! It's great that you got to see some history being made, albeit a sad moment in history. It's times like these when it pays to live in the nation's capitol, right?

9:27 AM  
Blogger karen said...

wow, how fascinating! great that you could experience such a historic event, and unplanned, too! I had to laugh about the duct tape on your car :)

Looking forward to hearing more about the cooking idea!

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry your venerable car didn't make the onlooker's cut! :-)

I love unplanned special moments like the one you experienced; a window into a long chapter of history and power, indeed.

Glad to be back online and reading your blog again, B!


3:30 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I'm sorry that I missed the motorcade. It seems like the passing of an era.

8:51 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- There are some definite advantages to being here!

Karen -- Yes, the duct tape incident has continued to amuse me.

Anon -- I have missed your insightful comments. Welcome back!

Kristin -- It was definitely a historic moment.

9:03 PM  

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