It was boiling in DC. The humid season was in full swing. Rachel waved down a taxi after taking the Metro in and rode toward the Lincoln Memorial. She stopped the driver about halfway between it and the Washington Monument, the Reflecting Pool stretched between them. Her father would be there to meet her.
She searched the crowd. It wasn’t too bad this year, not this early in the day. She smiled as she spotted him only moments later. She couldn’t wait to show him her son’s report card and the photo she took yesterday. Rachel could already hear her father praising the boy. Robert David, named after his Grandpa. Soon he’d join them on these outings each Independence Day weekend.
“Race you to Capitol Hill, pumpkin!” Rachel shook her head.
“You can’t pull that on me, Dad. It’s an optical illusion that it’s so close. It’s a good ten miles and I’m not about to try in these strappy shoes.” His laugh always made her feel safe.
Instead, she took him past the Washington Monument to the Mall, the long lawn which led to the Capitol building. Gravel paths guarded the lawn on either side. Monuments to architecture, museums stood across narrow streets to each side of the Mall. Rachel chose the Smithsonian Castle. It was one of the smallest, but perhaps for that reason was the least crowded. She sighed at the relief of air conditioning and grabbed a lemonade at the snack bar in the carpeted lobby. They shared quiet conversation as she mentioned news of one cousin here, one aunt there.
After viewing the collections of coins and pop iconography, Rachel led the way to the statue garden. She grinned at his laugh. “You never did appreciate fine art, Dad.”
“Nothing fine about so-called modern art, Rachel.”
“How about I take you to something even you would call art?” They crossed the Mall and went into the National Gallery of Art. Dad always did like the classics, so she wound through the galleries to find him some Seurat in the Impressionists Collection. She took up people watching from the cushioned bench nearby.
The walk back beyond the Washington Monument was a slow one. It always was. Crowds and exhaustion had the smaller parts to play in it. Rachel bit the inside of her cheek to keep the tears unshed. She wished she could make this long trip more often, but her little family kept her plenty busy in Idaho. As she walked, she glanced up, nearly cringing at how soon they’d arrive at the place they’d met that morning.
Rachel shimmied and squeezed her way to the front of the crowd, murmuring “Pardon me” and “Excuse me, please.” She touched reverent fingers to the stone, slowly tracing each letter. Placing the report card and photo on the ground for him, she leaned in. She kissed her father’s name on The Wall.
“Miss you, Daddy. See you next year.”
© 2011 JC Rosen
The Vietnam Veterans War Memorial is also known as The Wall.