a day in the Capitol

The visit to the capital had been a combination birthday present/reward for his good grades in his first year of high school. They had left early, but the drive had been long and hot and as they neared the Beltway, his parents squabbling had escalated into a full-blown fight. Jeffrey just turned up the volume on his Ipod and looked out the window.

One by one, buildings he'd only seen on TV came into view and on the horizon, the tip of the Washington monument glowed clean and white against the hot blue sky. When they got to the hotel, his parents collapsed in front of the air conditioner and Google map print-out in hand, Jeffrey set out for the National Archives Building.

There, he walked directly to the glass case holding the Declaration of Independence. An kindly old guard watched as his young face stared up at the first page and began to read...

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Jeffrey read on, his silent lips moving slowly as his eyes scanned the old parchment, murmuring words he'd committed to memory a month ago. When he came to the end, he traced the signatures one by one on the glass case and said the names reverently out loud.

There was a hush in the great Rotunda as he finished, and he turned to old guard, who smiled back at him. "Jesus H. Christ on a crutch" said Jeffrey "what the fuck happened?"


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