As I write this having spent Memorial Day 2015 in Capitol Hill in Washington,DC, then surely having spent part of the prior few weeks in NH and Vermont colors my lens. But I was back in Capitol Hill for Memorial Day 2015. And this is what I saw & felt.
People from outside the area will think of the national larger than life events.
Yes, there was the parade on Constitution Avenue, which you'd all know as the National Mall.
Yes, there was the moving tribute, and a visit from the President, at Arlington National Cemetery.
Yes, every year, a few hundred thousand bikers roll into DC for Rolling Thunder to honor out veterans, prisoners of war and missing in action. They've been doing this since the late 1980's and do bring visibility to the issue, in a respectful way speaking with a loud voice.
That's what the foreigners-to-our-neighborhood think of. Those of us who live here, simply think of this as a big village, and that's how we celebrate Memorial Day. I live on a street that is a block long. I know everyone here, their sisters, their grandkids, their dogs. And they know us and my dog too, which is why no one calls the Animal Control dept. when my dog howls at the passing fire trucks. We all know each others habits, quirks, commute patterns.
If you wanted a good story, I'd tell you how I went to the parade, but I didn't. I will tell you that I went to the Argonaut, a local place, owned by neighbors 3 doors away. They've been neighbors for a dozen years and have been owner the Argonaut since it opened in 2005 or so. The place has good reviews too, if you check them out on Yelp. If you like a kid-friendly place that has a great local beer selection, this is the place to go. What does that tell you of this neighborhood? Correct, the locals aren't a bunch of lobbyists or politicians who fly in/out every Tuesday and Thursday, but rather, the locals are real people having real lives.
Memorial Day Monday was my first day back home and I set out to take a few photos of the neighborhood. I didn't do very well, because I wanted to capture the stillness, which I tried to get by snapping these empty streets in the middle of the day, with a flag draped against the pole waiting for the wind to display it's glory. I could focus on the flag or the wide expanse of nothing. I chose the latter.
In my contined quest to capture the stillness, or maybe hoping to catch a few neighbors grilling on their front lawns, I continued down the street. Not the smartest, I was simply walking down the middle of the street, which for me is pure joy as usually the streets are not empty by any stretch of the mind.
When I snapped this next photo of a flag, reminding me that we are in the nation's capital and this is one heck of a strong nation, a woman driving in the street (as was her right) opened her window and asked if she could help me, if there was something I was looking for. I laughed, got out of her way and wished her a nice Memorial Day.
That, for me, is Capitol Hill. Friendly people & neighbors, always ready to welcome the newest arrival or out of towner tourist. The BID flag is the Capitol Hill Business Improvement District. Don't many small towns in America have some business groups working together to ensure a healthy Main Street? Then you understand why we do also.
If you are a tourist for the day, whether you get here by car, bike or Metro, if you have a need, within a few minutes you'll have solicited several options from our neighbors on street. If you want a heads up to start, consider the write up on Capitol Hill businesses from the Washingtonian Magazine.
While I enjoyed my time in a little town in Vermont, in many ways, Capitol Hill itself is a little town. Friendly and communal as those tv sitcoms show little towns to be, yet, a quick walk to Union Station for a train to Manhattan, or a 15 minute drive to Reagan National.
If you think you've got a need to live in Capitol Hill, here are a few options.
Happy Memorial Day to all, especially our veterans and their families.