Tuesday, June 21, 2011
My buddy Joe called yesterday. “Hey, what do you think about going to the Henry Ford at midnight?” Which is not a question you normally hear around here. The place normally closes at five. The Henry Ford used to be referred to as Greenfield Village, but now that’s part of the larger Henry Ford complex, and at the Museum they were featuring, for thirty six hours straight, one of the very rare public displays of a few pages of the original Emancipation Proclamation. By rare, I mean, it’s only out around forty to sixty hours a year. Period. So this was it. This was the annual display, and it was in Michigan, and it was near our house. Unlikely to ever be repeated. So we went.
There were people everywhere. It was crazy.
We waited in line for five and a half hours (yes, five and a half hours) with a lot of other people wanting to feast their eyes on a piece of history. And this being such a rare display, everyone had a pretty good attitude, even thought there were a lot of people laying around on the floor sleeping, waiting as the line crept forward.
Joe and I were in line between two very nice women, one was named Liona and the other Bonnie. You could say that the Emancipation had special meaning for them, given their heritage. And they were great to talk with for 5 hours. Also, about a hundred feet behind us in line was our friend Hazel and some of her family. Joe, being Joe, set up one of the security people to confront Hazel and tell her she had to leave the museum for cutting in line.
It was priceless.
We laughed with our Junior High maturity for about ten minutes while Hazel threatened to kill us, which we deserved.
The clock kept ticking past. We shuffled along. We finally made it up to the door where a man dutifully asked everyone to move quickly through the exhibit that they had stood in line for five hours to see. No irony there. But it was hard to move quickly. Looking at the amazingly straight lines of text, trying to read some of the old script as quickly as you could, it was kind of mesmerizing. At that moment, Bonnie looked at me and said, “Don’t those words just give you a chill?” And she was right.
Pages two and five were original, pages one, three and four were facsimiles. But page five is the home run anyway because that has Lincoln’s signature on it. Cool stuff, to say the least.
Those of us who were of European descent walked through the exhibit with those of African descent, and Eastern and so on, at peace, on equal terms, observing many of the documents that made it possible for us to do so.
Once again my buddy Joe opened the door for a great experience.
Peace to you.
© LW Publishing 2011