He was shot and died after a long agonizing fight for his life. What would this President of the United States have done for the country? We will never know. President James Garfield had been gunned down at the start of his Presidency while in the company of not only his two sons but friend and colleague Robert Todd Lincoln, who had lost his famous Father under similar circumstances.
Standing in front of Garfield’s statue near the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. we were completing a history tour that we had begun this Spring. Paula and I will spend the next few days in the Capitol. History and learning are never ending of course, and this tour was our way of making a physical connection to the early history of the United States.
In the Spring we had visited Gettysburg, Jamestown, Williamsburg, Richmond, Monticello and Washington D.C. I have always been a more tactile learner and seeing a place and walking the same paths and buildings of the people I am interested in works better for me.
Today’s touring took us through the Capitol building and The Library of Congress. We were supposed to be here today. Election day, November 4th 2008. My friend Ali believes this and I have to say that the more experiences I have of this nature the more I agree with his philosophy.
Ali believes that we are where we are supposed to be and that people and events come into our lives for a reason. This belief, while not unique to any one religion or culture has been demonstrated to me on numerous occasions and was again today.
Three things happened.
Our lives which run on the very loosest of schedules found us walking around inside the U.S. Capitol Building on election day. We had tried on two previous occasions to get in the building this year but time and circumstances denied us access. Today the building was quiet and we walked the hallways alone in many places. It allowed us a view we would have not enjoyed had we came on any other day.
In the Library of Congress Jefferson building, I walked an under ground hallway and stood in front of a picture of some World War II pilots. Front and center in the photo was a WAC (Women’s Army Corp) whose name I recognized. Her son, a helicopter pilot and old friend had been on my mind the day before and I had told a story just a few days prior of Barry flying his Mom in my helicopter. She had been a WAC and flown the B-26 bomber. Barry had flown his Mom in the Jet Ranger to meet a up with a B-26 and its crew down the coast from us in southern California. Barry and especially his Mom were given the royal treatment which included a flight and some stick time for Mom. There she was, smiling back at me as a young determined woman of twenty something in the photo. I have to call Barry.
This Spring after returning from Guatemala, Belize and Mexico we visited Monticello. Monticello is the restored home of one of the greatest men of U.S. history Thomas Jefferson. It was my second visit to Monticello and I lingered in Jefferson’s office looking at native American artifacts and some of his books.
Jefferson’s interest ran the full gambit but he was definitely keenly interested in the Native American cultures of past and current day. Some of Jefferson’s prized memorabilia were Native American articles brought back by Lewis and Clark.
There were two main exhibits in the Library of Congress. The first was a reconstructed version of Jefferson’s original library as he had organized it in his office at Monticello. Computers allowed you to peruse many of Jefferson’s books in a virtual format. Very cool.
Paula asked me if I had seen the other main exhibit? We walked past the Great Hall to the other exhibit and stepped inside. The early America’s exhibit. The same Mayan culture we had been studying and touring all last winter and this Spring in Guatemala, Belize and Mexico. Mayan artifacts from many of the cities and temples we had visited in Central America. Here they were, right across the hall from Jefferson’s Library.
All my lifes a circle