August 2-3, 2014, Arlington, VA- So as not to belabour the point, this post will be concerned with my visit to two beautiful gardens, while in Washington, last month, for the interment of my father-in-law. The first is solemn, and relatively new: The Pentagon 9/11 Memorial, which is a five-minute walk from my hotel in Arlington. The second is a golden oldie: The United States Botanic Garden, an arm of the Smithsonian Institution, with plants from around the globe.
First, the Pentagon Memorial. It is, somehow, the most controversial of the three memorials to the fallen of that horrific day. I think that those who disbelieve it ever happened are just not capable of processing a real-time tragedy, on such a grand scale. The same is certainly true of the Holocaust. Yet, these events did take place, and innocent lives were lost. The plane disintegrated into tiny fragments, the wall was decimated on the west side of the Pentagon, and the area is now a suitable memorial for those who took off, and never landed, on September 11, 2001.
Here are some of the scenes, starkly beautiful.
The scene below shows a small memorial in the far background, a three-pronged steel sculpture set up by the Marriott Corporation, near its Pentagon-area hotel.
No matter who one thinks is responsible for these heinous acts, the important things to me are the loss of innocent life, and the need to say, and mean, “Never again!”.
On Sunday, August 3, I spent a more joyful hour at the United States Botanic Garden, along the Smithsonian Row, south of the US Capitol. Here are several scenes of that exquisite place. As you can see, there are plants from rain forests, English and Japanese gardens and deserts alike. I was drawn to the Mistletoe Cactus, though I can’t envision two lovers embracing in its midst.
This was the perfect counterpart to my secular pilgrimage along the National Mall. I think the saner members of Congress must find there way here, on a regular basis. My Eastward Homage would end the next day, as I said farewell and see you again, to one of the most powerful men I’ve ever known.