January 17, 2009

Private Moments at Public Events

One thing that I am awed by is the small private moments people have in reaction to large public events. Just after September 11th, I was up at the farm where we stored things for our architectural salvage business, when I saw that the tenants had hung a flag over the barn doors. No one would see it but them and us, but they had made the effort in honour of those who had died.
Today, I had a similar experience. The historic train taking the President-Elect to Washington would be coming through Baltimore, and the President-Elect would be stopping here to make a speech at the War Memorial Plaza downtown. I am not one for huge crowds, but wanted to be a part of this event. When I knew the President-Elect and his entourage had left the Plaza and were going back to board the train, I headed out to find a quiet place to watch the train pass.
Everywhere I tried to stop and watch was crawling with police, so I turned down a small road and found a place to stop. If you've ever seen The Wire, you have an idea of what kind of neighbourhood this was... There were a few other people there and I had the dog with me, so I figured I'd be safe.
I ended up standing next to an older African-American women who told me that she grew up in at the end of the street where we were standing. She remembered standing in the exact same spot, waiting and watching for the train carrying Robert F. Kennedy to Washington after his funeral in New York. She said that she never thought she'd see the day that our country elected a black president.

We waited about 45 minutes in the bitter cold for the train to come by. It moved very slowly, much more so than the usual Amtrak rate of speed. As it went by, the small group cheered and waved and honked their car horns. The train blew its horn at us. It was all over in less than a minute.


After the train moved out of sight, I turned to look at the woman I'd been speaking with and she had tears streaming down her face. I am glad I made this little effort to witness this moment in history.
Photos: The Baltimore Sun, except for the one of Connor.

26 comments:

  1. Love your post, very beautiful. I just wrote about Obama in Baltimore! http://bartboehlert.blogspot.com/
    Cheers,
    BB

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  2. Thanks, Bart. It was a good day in Baltimore.

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  3. I was watching it at home on CNN - he's such an amazing speaker and greeting all of those braving the cold just to catch a glimpse of him. I was wondering if you were there!
    I had friends who went to union station to greet his train as it arrived, they called me and said it was insanity! I plan on watching all of the events on tv(happening 4 blocks away) from home with a warm drink

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  4. I went and braved the crowds. It was much less crowded than I thought it would be. Unfortunately, it was freezing cold and that's probably what kept so many people home.

    Thanks for sharing the video.

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  5. Wonderful moment you describe.

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  6. Heidi... you're braver than I am! Even standing for about 45 minutes waiting for the train chilled me to the core!

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  7. Meg - I absolutely loved this post and the mini movie and the story

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  8. That was a wonderful moment for both of you and one neither will forget. I watched a little of it earlier in the day and it brought back such strong memories of watching the train carrying Bobby Kennedy that it was difficult to watch. It is nice to have a different picture and story of hope to replace that image with. Thanks.

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  9. Dear Meg,

    This is fabulous!

    We were supposed to be back in Baltimore now, but had to postpone for obvious reasons. We'll be there for a tango Valentines extravaganza!

    Thank you for sharing your moment. It made me feel like I was there.

    xo xo

    PS Love the Poe post, and your raven banner. You are so gifted!

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  10. What a special moment. Thanks for sharing it.

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  11. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Now I can say I saw the train pass through Baltimore.

    Love your new header...Rosemary

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  12. What a beautifully written post, Neighbor. :)

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  13. I'm so upset I missed them in Wilmington. So upset!

    Lovely story.

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  14. It must be quite moving.

    I must say though I never thought of it as impossible.

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  15. You did a beautiful job with the post Meg. So glad you made the effort too!

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  16. Meg - You will always be so glad you made the effort; I'm envious. My sister-in-law met Obama last week. It's such an exciting time. (Connor, too, I know was glad to witness this little bit of history.)

    And, I love the new banner.

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  17. You were in the right place. Wonderful post.

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  18. hey, I'm crying now too. unreal. tomorrow is MLK's birthday. wow.

    your story reminds me of the car that took Diana to her final resting place.

    great story Meg. you're so lucky to be right there.

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  19. This made me cry too. And I actually considered going somewhere to watch the train and then decided against it. I'm kicking myself now!

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  20. Meg, you and Connor hand and hand watching such a historial moment! Beautiful post!

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  21. Great story, Meg. Also, congrats on your Ravens! Baltimore is happening place!

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  22. very cool, meg. i love that this is a positive event where we all are creating memories in our own way :)

    anne

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  23. Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts. So wonderful.

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  24. Thanks Meg! I bet you'll remember that forever. The times they are a changing.

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  25. I cannot read anything about an African-American person who was alive before the Civil Rights breakthroughs without blubbing. When I think about what this means to me, and then I think about what this must mean to them, I feel emotionally overwhelmed . . . but in the nicest possible way.

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  26. What a beautiful moment you shared with that woman. It made me get a little misty-eyed too. Thanks for sharing your story. I posted about inauguration day viewing in Rockefeller Center on my blog, in case you're interested:

    http://gemmifer-jennifer.blogspot.com/2009/01/dawn-of-new-day.html

    PS: I love your new header!

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