Faith and Public Policy 2017 WDCUncategorized

Peeping at Memorial Day Weekend Through Veteran Lens

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  (1 Peter 1:3)

Gratitude:  I am grateful for strength, courage, willingness and desire.

Saturday morning visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture was both rewarding and gloomy for me.  It was rewarding to finally see America’s story told through the lens of African American history and culture on a larger and visible platform.  I am grateful that exhibits throughout the museum foster understanding of global cultures by examining the African diaspora and I am grateful that none African-American cultures are coming from under rocks, finally paying attention to our stories.  However, this refresher history lesson was gloomy and unnecessary for me as I traveled back down memory lane to the segregated Jim Crow era of my formative years, years not so different than current day Capitol Hill and its privileged white America ideologies and goals. 

My favorite part of the museum I almost missed as I sought an exit route from the exhibits.  Immediately to the right (prior to the exit sign) and hidden out of view is Contemplative Court, recommended to me by the exit gate security guard.  Entering the room, senses of peacefulness encased my entire being as I viewed a beautiful cascading ceiling to floor waterfall.   Feeling the presence of long lines of ancestors, I walked around the room meditating on each empowering quote, written one per wall.  I breathe.  Sitting on a marble bench to center myself, I rested, reflected and prayed to sounds of falling water mentally blocking the sounds of busy chatter around me.   Refreshed and back to my jovial self, I headed to the gift shop to add an exclamation point to my journey – retail therapy.

Sunday morning, I intentionally visited Union Station to spend time intermingling with homeless veterans.  Interacting and sharing stories with random strangers, one slumbered face and despaired story after the next one, I met two veterans and many other humans barely simply looking for a stage to be respected on and heard.  After several hours of sharing many apprehensive stories filled with laughter, tears, hugs and prayers I was overwhelmed with our commonalities and our differences.  I breathe. Looking back to wave as I approached the exit doors, I silently prayed as signs of eschatological hope returned and slowly consumed faces all around me.    

Next stop, touring the National Post Office Museum.  On this intriguing and relaxing tour, I learned so much about the history of the post office, stamps, and envelopes I could easily win Jeopardy in this category.    My favorite exhibits, keeping in theme with Memorial Day, were those highlighting the importance of mail for Military Personnel.      

Rev. Donna Weddle with the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington, Va., blesses bikers during the Rolling Thunder ‘Ride for Freedom’ ‘Blessing of the Bikes’ at Washington National Cathedral in Washington, Friday, May 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Shortly after leaving the Post Office, I experienced a vision of bikers roaring up Pennsylvania Avenue.   Miles and miles of Rolling Thunder Bikers for Freedom with thirty years of converging on D.C.  in support of and solidarity with military troops current and past.  Led by young women, mothers, and wives the sea of endless bikers rode by in beautiful hues of endless rainbow colored clothing adorned by black leather vests and jackets, as one united body. 

Monday, self-care time for this Veteran!!!!!!!!   I am off to partake in Washington D.C.  2017 Black Pride Events.   What is your call to action today? Tomorrow? Forever?

Volunteer at the VA.  Adopt a Vet.  Feed A Vet.  Clothe A Vet.  Love A Vet.

Peace, Love, and Solidarity ….. Carla Halyard