Yesterday, I was invited to participate in a bookstore panel (along with Katherine Marsh and Elizabeth LaBan) at Hooray for Books! in Alexandria, VA. (They now have signed copies of books by all three of us, if you would care to own one!) I decided to spend the morning enjoying Washington before heading over to the store.
day, I thought a lot about the places that words take us. Because of a
book I wrote, I was invited on this trip in the first place. Because my
friend Jama Rattigan blogged
about a book written by two sisters who started a chocolate shop in
Washington DC, I read the book, and yesterday visited the store. Both
book and store are named Chocolate Chocolate.
Excellent chocolate, by the way! And because of our shared enjoyment of
books and blogging (and chocolate), I got to know Jama in the first
place, and to spend time with her and her husband at and after the
reading. Those are the fun places words took me.
myself with chocolate, I visited the Lincoln and World War II
memorials, among other sites. Everywhere I looked were other memorials
and monuments and tributes: to Washington, to Jefferson, to veterans of
World War I and the Korean War and the Vietnam War, to the signers of
the Declaration of Independence.
Washington is a city built on weighty words: words carved into memorials, like Lincoln's second inaugural address. Or preserved in the archives, like the Declaration of Independence, the original Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
Or delivered as speeches in the White House and the Capitol Building
and the Supreme Court. Or printed on signs of protest, when citizens
march. We don't always live up to our best words, being imperfect human
beings--and we don't even all agree on what the words mean and how they
should be applied--but there's an idealism underlying those words that
is still inspiring.