Death of Washington
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Death of Washington Bicentennial page #3
Mount Vernon, VA
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Washington Bicentennial

With minutes left of our Mount Vernon Tour, sweat raining down in the sweltering Virginia heat, we found Washington's tomb. Or did we?



Washington Bicentennial

But where were the crowds? Where was the funeral procession, the drummer, the mock mourners? "You want the NEW tomb," a man with a walkie-talkie told us. It's down towards the river near the Slave Memorial." We jogged, imagining the headlines in the Portsmouth Herald: "NH Historian Dies Looking for Washington Memorial."



Washington Bicentennial

Then suddenly, there it was, complete with its own mini-version of the famous Washington DC obelisk. Another man with a walkie-talkie told us the funeral procession was on its way. We could hear the drum beating in the distance. It was not as loud as the beating heart of the middle-aged tourists who had a bus to catch on the other side of Mount Vernon.



Washington Bicentennial

So we said a hasty prayer for George Washington, lying in his marble sarcophagus next to Martha, where they have been resting through the last 200 years of this continuing American Revolution, the ongoing experiment in something that resembles a democracy, yet very different from what George had envisioned. "You did good," we told old George, the man who would not be king, even when the public demanded it. He visited NH once, and no one has forgotten that day.



Washington Bicentennial

Spurred on by patriotic fervor, we jogged the half mile back to the bus. The lines were even longer at the Mansion and the sun was even hotter. No time to see Tobias today. He had his hands full. A quick detour into the gift shop and we were back on the Gold Line in time for a quick head count, and we're off to DC. On the way back the bus driver played a tape of Jerry Seinfeld's monologue about Halloween. It made no sense at all. Then he told us that the whole funeral in 1779 was planned by George Washington's best friend and secretary. "Anyone who can name that man wins a Tootsie Roll!" he challenged. "TOBIAS LEAR!" we shouted, and the rewards of studying local history were never sweeter.

Photos and text by J. Dennis Robinson
© 1999 SeacoastNH.com

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