Night scene from Lincoln memorial puts dysfunction in background

By John R. Stone

We were standing on the top steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., recently looking down the reflecting pool to the Washington Monument and U.S Capitol. It was nearing dark and to top off an amazing picture, to the right of the Washington Monument, a full moon was in the sky.

We were not alone. There were hundreds more on the steps taking in the same view. Hundreds more were facing the other direction looking at the imposing statue of Abraham Lincoln.

For all the times one thinks of Washington, D. C. as a dysfunctional place, a place full of grandstanding politicians eager to win reelection with the next vote tally, a scene like that from the Lincoln Memorial puts all that in the background.

We were surrounded by hundreds, probably thousands of people who came to Washington, D.C. to see some of the symbols of our democracy, learn more about our nation’s history and bask in the ambiance of probably one of the greatest cities in the greatest free nation of the world.

It was pretty easy to feel proud of what we have. It’s not perfect, and I often point out where we could be better. But what we have is more than most people in the world will ever have. The freedom to travel when and where we want without permission; more food than we need; cleaner air than many have and cleaner water as well; not to forget better medical care than billions of other world residents. So, we are fortunate.

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We traveled to the D.C. area to watch Jeremy Cochran get his Ph.D. in music. He got his undergraduate degree from NDSU then went to UMD for his master’s and George Mason for his doctorate.

He was actually the first person to get his degree during the ceremony. His “walk” number was No. 1, which was kind of unique. The music department was the first to have its doctoral candidates receive diplomas, and Jeremy had the advantage of not having anyone else in the music department with a last name higher on the alphabet. When you have about 200 doctoral graduates coming forward that is interesting.

Jeremy’s a Glenwood native and his grandparents, Ivan and Liz Dorn and Ron and Arlene Cochran, are here along with parents Brent and Lisa Cochran of Glenwood, and Patty and Harley Hansen of Grand Rapids.

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That night we took the night tour of the major monuments in Washington, D. C. There are lots of monuments to people and those who served in this nation’s major wars.

Since we were staying in the suburbs, we took the metro. We hadn’t done that on previous trips and it proved to be fast, clean, efficient and appeared safe. We came back about 10 p.m. and there was nothing that bothered us on the train.

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The trip out East by car took us through central Indiana and Ohio on the way out and through northern Indiana and Ohio on the way back. I know farmers around here have been very nervous about the late start on fieldwork they have experienced.

The only place we saw much fieldwork was in Indiana at about the latitude of Indianapolis. Fields hadn’t been touched in northern Indiana or Ohio. In fact, we saw more fieldwork between Sauk Centre and Glenwood on the return trip than we did on on the rest of the trip put together!

On the way back we slipped up to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and toured the site of what was probably the decisive battle of the Civil War. The battlefields have been acquired by a foundation, so you can see them pretty much as they were before the battles in early July 1863. It’s a pretty somber place, as you might expect; thousands died in three days of battles.