During the past year, I have been going through “stuff” accumulated over a life soon to reach 70 years. I’m trying to make decisions now, so my kids won’t have to agonize someday over what should be saved and what should be tossed. It’s not easy. For example, I came across that box of unidentified photographs, many saved by my parents. Suddenly, the task stalled and I ricocheted off the walls of time and family history as I looked through them. I’m sure my parents didn’t know what to do with these photographs and put them in the box for me and my siblings to sort. Perhaps this is a task our grandchildren will be spared as family photographs become intangible.
Anyway, in that box among unlabeled photos was a group shot of Cub Scouts sitting on the steps of our nation’s Capitol posing with the congressman who signed the photo. In the photo I recognized me, my brother Ray, and Dave, my best buddy in grade school. It was taken in 1963.
I had forgotten about this trip, my first to Washington, D.C., and have little actual memory of it. But upon finding the photo, I could immediately summon the sense of majesty the young me must have felt walking through the halls of that building, looking up at the dome of the rotunda and then looking down from the galleries in the chambers where, we must have been told, the people’s representatives decided things that mattered for the country.
I did not toss that old photo, and dug it out again to see if I could locate where it was taken in relation to the events of Jan. 6. Looking now at pictures of the Capitol behind barbed wire, patrols of armed police and military and the vicious mob, I wonder whether such innocently proud photos will be possible in the future. I fear the majesty of the Capitol will never recover; that it will be forever stained by the images of a mob encouraged by the 45th President to desecrate the rotunda where, only a few months after this photo was taken, the 35th President would lie in state.
Tim Troll lives in Anchorage.
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