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Subject:  The Meaning of Monuments Date:  9/14/2001  12:24 AM
Author:  TMFCheeze Number:  2753 of 177824

I drove across the river into Washington yesterday. I'm not quite sure why I did it, except that I felt drawn there. I wanted to wander among the monuments for a while. I'm not sure why, except that perhaps I wanted to somehow pay my respects, to feel more rooted in the events of these past several days. Or maybe I was there because I needed some kind of reassurance -- to touch the monuments and to make sure they were still there. After a week like we've just had, you wonder a bit what might still be standing.

It seemed useless gesture, perhaps. It was an exercise made more in search of my own solace than anyone else's. For what, really, could I expect my presence in that place to do for me, or for anyone?

What are these monuments for? What good are they? Why did the generations before us set up these pompous slabs of marble, this collection of gargantuan bric a brac, over the course of the last couple of centuries? After Tuesday's attack, with thousands dead and far beyond any help I could give them, what is it about the mall in Washington that compelled my presence? No walk through this park would do anything to resolve our crisis. And yet I found myself wandering there, walking on some kind of unbidden and aimless patrol, for what reason I did not quite know.

I wandered from one end of the mall to the other, beginning at the Capitol, past all the shrines of our nation, past the National Archives, where our Constitution and Declaration are kept, past the Smithsonian, which houses the flag for