Friday, June 18, 2004

June 18, 2004

The Civil War Tour—Day 4 Yesterday we started before 8 AM and didn’t finish until after 11 PM. It would take too long to summarize so I will simply present a collage of impressions. 8:03 AM Where’s our guide? … Talking with Lloyd Johnson who served in the 8th Air Force in WWII. Flew 30 missions over Europe … “God has been very patient with me” … “I told her 8 AM. Can’t figure out what happened” … Hurry up and wait … She dropped her videos. 9 AM Pierre L’Enfant, the man who designed the capitol, handpicked by George Washington … The capitol and its Christian heritage … Secularists have expunged Christianity from our nation’s history … The Washington Monument topped with Laus Deo (Praise Be to God) by Chester A. Arthur … “The history of this nation is biblical” … Many of America’s founders truly believed in Jesus, a fact that we tend to ignore today … Our guide talks a mile a minute. I think she knows the history of every building in DC … John Adams’ prayer inscribed on the mantle above the fireplace in the State Dining Room in the White House … Secularists changed the educational curriculum starting in the 30s to deliberately take out references to our godly heritage. “Turn here please. No, don’t turn there. Let’s go to another street.” … That’s not the right exit … Oops … It’s hard to turn a big bus around … “Prayer is the work” … All 13 colonies established for Christian purposes … “It all there. Check the originals” … (In the middle of an intersection) “Turn left—no, make that right. Okay, let’s go around the block” … I think Al is having a hard time with the guide … Washington is laid out in the shape of a perfect cross: The Lincoln Memorial the top, the Capitol at the bottom, the Jefferson Memorial and the White House form the crosspiece, the Washington Monument is at the center. Not planned that way—except by God … It’s hot today … “Please stay together when you get off the bus” 10:33 AM Getting tickets to see the Capitol … 9/11 changed everything. Long lines, tight security, no tours by private guides … “Turn here, please. No,wait. Let’s go another block. We’re trying to find Ford’s Theater.” … Come back later … Two helicopters fly over—possibly taking President Bush to Andrews Air Force base … Cicadas … Marble from Italy … We’ll have to cross the Potomac so we can turn the bus around … “She really knows her stuff, but it would help if she would tell me sooner where to turn” … Getting hotter, the seniors starting to wilt in the heat … The Lincoln Memorial … A street preacher and an off-key version of “Jesus Paid it All”… A vast cross-section of America milling around … It’s over 90 degrees … Back on the bus … Burger King: “Please get your food and get back on the bus. We’ve got a lot to see” … Turn here … “I can’t” …”Fine. Let’s go down that street and turn right at the end” … “We’ve got a real situation now” … No way to turn around … So we end up going the wrong way down a one-way street. A bus comes the other way (the right way). A street worker runs in front of our bus, waving off the ongoing bus. Not a happy moment … On the way to Arlington Cemetery: We’re on an expressway and the sign says the bridge has 12′ 4″ clearance … “We’re in real trouble now” …”I can’t go under that bridge. If I do, I’ll take off the top of the bus.” … Creeping forward … Sliding under the bridge … “That sign isn’t right” … Sweltering heat at Arlington Cemetery … Laboring to climb to the top of the hill … The solemn beauty of the changing of the guard at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier: “Here rests in honored glory an American solider, known but to God” … Several people can’t make it and nearly pass out … The JFK burial site and the eternal flame. 1:41 PM Lloyd Johnson has been here before … John and Barb Tahl know a Moody grad who died in Vietnam and is buried at Arlington … Sweat dripping … Labored breathing … The sun beats down … Back to the bus … We have tickets to see the Capitol at 2:20 PM … Security incredibly tight … Checkpoint at the bottom of the hill. Walk in groups up the hill. A tent, another checkpoint. Go into a wooden building, metal detectors just like the airport. Sit down, wait, potty break, a talk by a ranger, walking the long wooden ramps, into the building, another checkpoint, more talk, up some stairs, into the rotunda … President Reagan was the 10th president to lie in state here … Statuary Hall … Amazing acoustics … See the Christian influence everywhere. The government guide doesn’t mention most of it … The statue of Robert E. Lee has just two words on it: “Lee” and “Virginia” … Clay … Calhoun … Ethan Allen … Back to the bus 4:54 PM On to Ford’s Theater … Still extremely hot … The theater jammed to overflowing with school kids … Met a teacher from Grand Rapids who said that earlier today, while touring the National Cathedral, they met Ron Reagan, the president’s youngest son. He was doing a CNN interview … I slept during the presentation … Rounding up the strays … Bizarre sight: Hare Krishnas chanting outside Ford’s Theater … The Peterson Home where Lincoln died … Back to the bus … Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church—Lincoln loved this church, attended often … Church of the Presidents a block from the White House … “They are digging trenches everywhere. I don’t like it at all” … “I don’t know why they’re digging all these trenches” … Something about the Jesuits and President Lincoln … The Resurrection Window at the Church of Presidents, given by President Arthur after his wife died. He could look out from the White House and see light from that window. It reminded him of the faith of his late wife and the promise of seeing her again someday … 5:29 PM Driving rain. An enormous thunderstorm. More wrong turns. We’re trying to find the World War II Memorial … We drive past in the rain … Long drive back to the motel, lightning everywhere … the freeway has become a parking lot … Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were strong believers … More rain … Censorship of documents by people who want to suppress our Christian heritage … Everyone exhausted … Drop off our guide … We were supposed to be in Richmond right now. We’re over 2 hours behind schedule. 7:50 PM Call the restaurant, talk them into staying open past 10 PM … On the road again … rain ends … People starting to laugh about the long day … Irene Watt and Paul Lavenau discuss the causes of the Civil War … sun comes out … We’re zipping right along. 9:33 PM We got lost again. I told Al to turn right. We should have turned left. I’ve been wrong every time. I volunteer to ask someone where the Holiday Inn is. The men refuse my offer. The women think we should ask. “Men never ask for directions” … At the restaurant … Reliving a crazy day … More laughter … Back on the bus, to the motel … “Be back on the bus at 8 AM” 11:15 PM In our rooms at last. Good night. Tomorrow: The last day, flying home, a few closing thoughts.

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