A Cool Spot on a Very Hot Day
There’s a bit of web-inspired kerfuffle this morning over a photo of visitors standing in the water at the WWII Memorial in front of a sign saying not to.
The sign says, “Honor Your Veterans, No Wading…” obviously implying that standing in water up to your ankles is inherently disrespectful.
I tell my students when they ask that they are free to cool their feet in the pool by sitting on the ledge.
I wonder if that is disrespectful?
Am I promoting anarchy and disrespect, creating a future Che?
The Rainbow Pool
That pool of water has been there for over a hundred years and obviously predates the WWII memorial which muscled in and built a Mcmansion-memorial surrounding it.
What’s a pool to do?
Beckon on a hot day, probably.
Having visited the memorials hundreds of times, usually with students, my thoughts about them have evolved.
They are literally touchstones reminding us of an event or person central to our history, and thus to us.
To have an impact they must be observed and hopefully, experienced, preferably with some quiet contemplation.
Oddly, sitting with your feet in the water can set the stage for that to happen.
The number one problem at the memorials is loud and boisterous behavior unchecked by adult intervention.
It draws attention away from the memorial and to groups who think that this special place is yet another set for their next act.
The Real Desecration
The visual and spiritual centerpiece of the WWII memorial is the field of 4,048 gold stars at the west end, each star symbolizing 100 military deaths.
Below the stars is a half-circle pool of calm water in which the stars are often reflected.
Just in front is a low stone panel inscribed, “Here We Mark the Price of Freedom”.
The words are sublime and the combination inspires reverence for those who served.
Except when one or more eighth-graders are using it as a seat, blocking part, or all of the inscription and leading to my second most used expression at the memorial:
Where the companion words “For Christ’s Sake” are never (or rarely) spoken but always implied.