Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Patriotism Misplaced?

The connecting corridor between the rental car garage and the old Terminal A at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is a mundane affair. Strictly utilitarian; not much to see. Taking the escalator up from the tunnel on the ground floor of the terminal, something caught my eye, and I stopped suddenly.

The painting was hanging on a wall several paces from the walkway, itself confined and not very well lit. The height was curious too, more appropriate for someone in a wheel chair. There was no placard with title or artist. I got the distinct feeling that this was not the original location of the painting. It had been moved here.

The painting was created in early 2002, that much I could tell. I tried to transport myself briefly back to that time. Things seemed to be much more focused in the months after the terrible tragedy. It was a rare time in this country's history that there was this much unity of purpose.

Now, looking at the heroic imagery (notice the POTUS with the bullhorn), I'm saddened. The current administration milked as much as they could, thinking that all they had to do was evoke these images and everything would be alright. But it wasn't alright. And by using the tragedy as currency, and squandering the currency, it has cheapened those who were honored in this very portrait. And I'm suddenly jolted back to 2006. Maybe the caretakers at the airport felt the same way.

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