Tuesday, October 28, 2008

america: time to grow

despite stresses this week which are inevitable while traveling, i had a fantastic day on sunday. first, i arrived saturday evening at the hilton garden inn in williamsburg and unwound for the evening, sinking into blissful sleep. i slept in on sunday until 8:30am (beautiful) and then went and had a free breakfast (compliments of my hilton honors (TM) gold membership), consisting of orange juice, coffee, eggs, bacon, made-to-order french toast with powdered sugar, and strawberries and canteloupe. plus the waitresses were all super-nice; i think everyone is in virginia, but especially in williamsburg, perhaps because of the tourism, they seem to take special care to call you "honey" and ask how your day is.

after showering, of which i will not go into detail, i dressed and drove to the williamsburg visitor's center, parked, and walked across the bridge towards the historic area.

williamsburg is so neat. it's cheesy and obviously only fractionally accurate to eighteenth century life, but still so much fun. you can try on bonnets in the millinery, and tour the house of burgesses, maybe sitting in on a court case, and watch parades of fife and drum corps march down duke of gloucester street. but i say 'fractionally' not because historians haven't done their homework; indeed it's one of the most thoughtfully recreated historic towns that i've heard of--but because it's impossible to recreate the spirit of an era in its entirety because your interpretation is always filtered by the spirit of your own era and experiences.

at the same time, we can learn so much from history by viewing it from a modern lens...what it means for a tourist from 2008 to listen to a black slave talk about his daily life and show you the fields where he labors, and the shack in which he sleeps. or to sit down with a housewife outside her home and chat about the new popularity of coffee and the scarcity of pins. or to hear sounds of gunfire, then hasten over to the magazine to watch militiamen defend their supplies from quartered british soldiers. duh it's all acting. but it makes you think about where we've come from and what's changed today--and what hasn't.

i read today about the white supremacists (incidentally extremely unattractive) who "fighting for what this country stands for" were aborted in their plot to assassinate barack obama and several african-american school children. it reminded me of the plaque cemented to the pavement of that walkway leading from the visitor's center into historic williamsburg. if you stand with your back to the historic area, you read the following:
"democracy: a work in progress"

well, time to progress, america--ghandi was right: be the change that you want to see in the world.

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