Disposable Camera Tour
Death of Washington Bicentennial page #3|
Mount Vernon, VA
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With minutes left of our Mount Vernon Tour, sweat raining down in the
sweltering Virginia heat, we found Washington's tomb. Or did we?
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."
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
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.
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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