The fight against tyranny always begins with somebody saying “Kiss My Ass! I’m not taking your bullshit anymore!”
I was 19 years old the first time I visited Washington, DC. Drove all the way from Saskatchewan with three buddies during Christmas break. It was wet and cold and we had no good reason for being there. We just wanted to see the place.
Among the memories still vivid from that trip are two in particular…
Standing before the eternal flame over the grave of John F. Kennedy. Just me in long hair and fringed buckskin jacket and two windswept Marines in their honor guard great coats.
And visiting the Lincoln Memorial in the middle of the night.
If you ask me, that’s when you want to pay your respects to Mr. Lincoln.
Lincoln’s statue glows ethereal then in its halo of light and the quiet and grandeur of the place completely brings home both the loneliness of possessing a vision and the heavy mantle of leadership – not to mention the essential importance of having the courage to follow that vision and rise above the bickering crowd to lead it.
It seemed fitting that the Memorial was open 24/7, unhindered by either barriers or guards, available to anyone at any hour in need of a reminder of the burden that comes from having both dreams and power.
Now, I’m sure access to monuments and memorials has changed in Washington since I was 19 and certainly since 9/11. But it’s my understanding most are still relatively accessible at all hours, every day of the week.
At least they were until yesterday…
As a Canadian, it’s not my place to take a side on the current budgetary stalemate in Washington that has led to a government shutdown.
But there’s something unseemly and unsettling about seeing public spaces of historical significance being closed off.
Yesterday, a group of vets tore down the barricades surrounding the World War II Memorial while their congressman apparently distracted the cops. They did it simply in order to pay respect to their fallen comrades.
And today, they plan to do the same thing to pay their respects to Abraham Lincoln, whose monument this morning, as one Vet put it “Has more security than the consulate in Benghazi ever got”.
Meanwhile, officials in the Parks Service have admitted that orders to close these public places came directly from the Whitehouse. And now several news services have filed FOI requests to learn why –- the suspicion being that it was done to make more people feel the government’s pain at this difficult time.
Here’s a little tip to bureaucrats who believe inflicting pain on the populace they were elected or are paid to serve is a worthwhile strategy:
You don’t want to turn monuments to greatness into symbols of your own stupidity. It’s the first step to becoming a tyrant. So cut it out before even the folks on your side start saying “Kiss My Ass!”.