Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Springtime at the Capitol

The monuments are blooming again.

Many cite Sacramento's cold, rainy winters and extraordinarily hot summers (and the Kings) as a good reason never to live here. But lost between extremes is spring - a lovely, mild, soothing season that arrives just as you're about to lose your mind in a whirl of committee hearings, post-election depression, and sweater burn-out.

The weather here has be glorious the past week or so (at least, that's what I hear, and what I see evidence of as I enter or leave the office). The city is home to many flowering trees, lush lawns, and abundant gardens. Capitol park has all of that and more - namely monuments and protesters hidden among the trees and camilia groves. You can keep the latter, but the former are some of the state's greatest hidden treasures.

My favorite is the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial, in the northeast corner of the park. Surrounded by some form of white flowering tree, the circular walls are lined with the names of California's fallen. Inside are stunning sculptures of servicemen: in POW camps, in hospitals, on the battlefield, sitting in reflection.

With a soft breeze shaking lose the tree petals, a quiet moment spent in this sanctuary can be more moving and powerful than anything else you're likely to visit in this part of the state - or anywhere else, for that matter. Perhaps the spot is especially meaningful to me because the first time I saw it - complete with the blooming trees - was with my father, a decorated Vietnam Veteran.

Even with the war in Iraq, I don't think my generation feels any connection to war or its tragedies. But if you get a chance, find a veteran somewhere and take him or her to see the memorial at this key point in the year. You don't have to talk, ask for stories, just stand there quiet and thankful that it wasn't you who had to go. Take a moment to honor those who have died and please pray for peace.

No comments: