Daffy Duck: [singing] From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli/Hear those bells of freedom ringing – Oh, no, it’s just the phone for me.
—Draftee Daffy (1/23/45)
This afternoon, I had the TV on, and I was watching the ceremonies surrounding the opening of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, which is the newest museum to open up on the National Mall.
As it happened, I was in the area a few weeks ago with Daughter, and in our wandering through we were able to see the building from across the street (the museum side of the street was fenced off). It’s a truly impressive-looking structure. Older museums on the Mall are built to pretty much look like museums. Then along came the National Museum of the American Indian, with its curvilinear design which is meant to emulate naturally-carved rock formations and landscaping that simulates wetlands. Suddenly people got the idea that the building didn’t have to look so much like a building as all the others do. This new museum is a boxy building but it’s covered by an architectural scrim made of bronze-painted aluminum, designed to resemble a crown from Yoruban culture. The design also tricks the eye into thinking that it’s an inverted step pyramid. In addition to the three floors above the ground, the museum goes five floors down as well.
So, back to today.
I was watching the ceremonies on the TV up in my bedroom, and President Barack Obama was making his remarks. As he wound down, he referred to some people to his right, and identified them as members of the Bonner family, including seven-year-old Christine, up to 99-year-old Ruth.
Ruth’s father was born a slave.
Ponder that for a second—in a very real sense, we’re only ONE generation beyond slavery in this country.
Ruth’s father ran away, became a farmer and ultimately graduated from medical school.
President Obama then said:
“…in a brief moment, their family will join us in ringing a bell from the First Baptist Church in Virginia — one of the oldest black churches in America, founded under a grove of trees in 1776.
And the sound of this bell will be echoed by others in houses of worship and town squares all across this country — an echo of the ringing bells that signaled Emancipation more than a century
and a half ago; the sound, and the anthem, of American freedom.”
Now, there aren’t a lot of churches in my immediate area, but perhaps there’s one or two willing to participate. So at that point, I stepped to the window and opened it up, and turned the volume down on the TV to listen to the outside.
I heard nothing. Well, that was a disappointment, but as I noted there aren’t a lot of churches close to my house. And the one that’s closest doesn’t have a real bell; it’s got pre-programmed recordings of bells. Ah, well. So I shut off the TV and headed downstairs to let the dogs outside.
When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I decided to open the front door and let some fresh air into the house. There was a lovely breeze going on, and it blew through my brass wind chimes on the front porch. Being big and brassy, they don’t do a teeny ping! ping! like the aluminum ones do. Instead they make a deeper bong! bong!, much like a church bell.
Good going, wind chimes.