Georgetown asked me to write something of a bio for the reunion magazine. As I put words down I couldn’t help but be amazed at what has transpired over the past 50 years both personally and geopoliticially. You never understand your history until you pause and review. Some good and some bad but a wonderfully varied and downright interesting existence.
So much coalesced this weekend. As I saw people I had not seen in five decades there was wonderment. Some had not changed one iota. Some had changed for the worse and many for the better. Some had found incredible fortune and others had fallen on hard times both physically and financially.
We relived the hijinks of the 5th Copley dorm, our sophomore abode that was affectionately called the Animal Kingdom. Long ago a cohort decided to try his talents as a Motocross biker on our L shaped corridor. As he deftly maneuvered the 90 turn he missed and wiped out the statue of Our Lady who was watching over the troops but no more. Just one of many stunts to prove we were indeed Gentlemen of Georgetown.
The campus is packed tighter than a drum. Former ball fields and parking lots are chock a block with new dorms and classroom buildings. Not an inch to spare. Interestingly with its increased size there was more a sense of community than disparate pieces. Buildings were as much form as function. The local watering hole, the 1789, still held court for all as the only place to have that cold one midday. As I walked the streets, memories welled up and it was good fun. Nice to be young again.
The neighboring environs have not changed much. There was always a subtle sophistication of the brick sidewalks and cobbled streets but most of the stones are now gone. Wealthy politicians or whatever cohabited with the raucous students. As we walked by, cleaning people were doing their best to restore row houses to some form of presentablity. Sorry dad, the damage deposit will not be returned.
May and June are magnificent before the swelter of steamy summer days take hold. The students that were around didn’t look much different from us except for their habadashery and brains. Not sure I could get in the place now as they only accept 15% of applicants. They seemed pleasant and not arrogant. Sort of an aloofness to those around that probably comes with our new technology. Mainstays like Clyde’s and Dixie Liquors have not lost their panache.
As we said our good byes we knew most would not be back again. Out of 850 graduates there were 150 attendees and 150 who had passed on. I wonder if the other 500 ever gave a thought of coming back. Maybe like me there were unavoidable circumstances that kept them away? Such is life.
A wonderful buddy, Pete Sullivan from the Bay State had a bunch of us over for an after party. He and his wife Jean live at the famed Watergate and the festivities took place on the roof patio. It afforded a panoramic view of DC and therein my revery took another turn. The District is really a wonderful city with buildings and monuments from every vantage point. No comment about the denizens that make government their life’s work. There are many who have tried to make it a better place and yet so many who just want to suck at the teats of federal largesse. I wish we could brand the good guys and bad, at least for a reference point.
Sunday morning my roommate and his wife joined us for a visit to the Mall which can only remind one of a European city with its rich gardens. We stood at the Washington Monument where the four esplanades lead to the Capitol, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial. Kind of like the good the bad and the ugly. We all felt it would be a wonderful DMZ for the Trumpster and pols to get together. You couldn’t leave until you figured this mess out.
The final trek was the most poignant. We went to the Viet Nam Memorial and then the WWII Memorial. Their dissimilarities were striking. The first is stark as the granite lists 58,000 poor souls whose lives were cut short in a faraway place called Indo China. The entryway is simple and the message was raw in that maybe this was something that never should have happened but we wanted to honor them somehow.
To the contrary our fight against Japan and Germany had an aura of celebration. Towering columns with wreaths represented every state in the union. Porticoes remembered Iwo Jima, the Philippines, Midway and Okinawa in the Pacific. Likewise the Atlantic heralded the defeat of Germany and the enormity of D Day. There are 4048 stars each representing 100 servicemen and women who died. 404,800 in all.
Both memorials feted the warrior. One told of us defending our homeland after Pearl Harbor. The other of perhaps a bogus crusade after the Tonkin Gulf confrontation. One was personal and the other ideological. I shudder to think of the resources we waste in defense not only in the US but the world in its entirety. We have this whole deterrence thing which I understand perfectly and agree with in principle. But just for moment think of its absurdity. We are armed to the hilt for a war that hopefully will never occur.
I am not a pacifist. We have to defend ourselves when attacked. Yet as a wartime vet I think I have a right to question the sanity of our wanderings in Iraq and Afghanistan. I will always wonder at what good we could do with the trillions we spend on firepower. It was probably apt I finished my reunion weekend on the Mall. As brothers in arms we all got back together again. Hoya Saxa!
Ted The Great.
There are over 450 hotels in the DC area. Some for tourists but mostly for those that want to do business for the government. There are more than 750,000 in the area workforce with 1/3 of those employed by the government.
The Pentagon is 6.5 million square feet in size with about 3.7 million sf of office space. It is home to around 23,000 military and civilian personnel. There are 17.5 miles of corridors.The same person who oversaw the Manhattan Project supervised its construction.
About 23 million people visit our nation’s capital vs a little over 10 million for New York City. The most popular attractions are the Smithsonian and the Lincoln Memorial.
We watched three flights over the city of Marine One. It was said that one carried His Hairness to play golf with Peyton Manning. There are actually three to five helos that fly with the actual one carrying the President not marked in any way and the others acting as decoys. There are approximately 600 Marines that are involved i the air operations.
In Greek Hoya means “what” and Saxa means “Rocks” What Rocks!