I arrived in Washington, DC over Memorial Day Weekend in 1993, just in time to walk over to the west lawn of the Capitol and watch the annual National Memorial Day Concert that is shown live on PBS. I have no idea which artists performed, but I remember standing the middle of 100,000 of my closest friends on the Capitol steps and having my breath taken away as I watched the sun set behind the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and into the Potomac River.
There were (and still remain) no words to describe the emotions I felt and feel welling up inside me as I write about these memories now. I stood there thinking about the history that had taken place in this city, the slave hands that built the Capitol, the people who gave their lives all around the world so I could be standing there, and the visionaries who birthed our country. I was in love.
Over the course of that summer, I walked over to the Capitol and watched the sunset many nights. My temporary home was less than two blocks away and I would either grab my girlfriends Jessica and Jennifer for an after-dinner walk or I'd go alone. Either way, I walked around the Supreme Court Building, down to the Library of Congress, around the Capitol, and finally back to Thompson-Markward Hall. With sites like that, it's no wonder I get bored just walking around my neighborhood for exercise now!
For the next 7 years, I never missed a Memorial Day Concert from the Capitol. I usually grabbed a few friends and we picnicked on the lawn, but once or twice I went alone. Each year, Nana would watch from her living room in Crystal Beach, Florida, and then call and insist she saw me on TV. I always pretended to believe her.
Now that I live in Chicago again, if I don't have plans for Sunday evening of Memorial Day Weekend, I'm always glued to my TV and PBS, watching the National Memorial Day Concert. Tonight is the 20th anniversary of the concert and it starts at 8pm ET (7pm CT). Click here for all the details. I'll be watching.