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Perseverance and Spirit have done Wonders in all ages.

George Washington

Presidents’ Day in Seattle this year was an unusually sunny Monday flecked with dramatic clouds. As they do every year, the Sons, Daughters, and Children of the American Revolution gathered on the University of Washington campus to pay tribute to its namesake along with compatriots from other historic organizations. For those who don’t know, membership in the SAR, DAR, and CAR are open to all who can prove lineal descent from a man or woman who served in or supported the American Revolution.

The morning’s festivities began in Kane Hall with local historian, photographer, author, teacher (in short, polymath– is there something he can’t do?) Jean Sherrard presenting photos and commentary from the acclaimed Seattle Now & Then. In 2018, Sherrard and the godfather of Seattle history, Paul Dorpat, published this epic collection of historic photos accompanied by modern views taken from the same vantage point. It’s a tome that allows you to stand in the present and gaze back into the past simultaneously. The contrasts between now and then are educational, enriching, emotional, and jarring all at once.

Sherrard was accompanied by veteran journalist, editor, photographer, et cetera Clay Eals, but not Paul Dorpat. Dorpat was unable to attend as we’d hoped. That meant we would miss the Felix-Oscar dynamic. If you’ve heard Sherrard and Dorpat speak together as they often do, they play off of each other like old married comedians. They come from different eras, but in a Statler-Waldorf-esque fashion they wryly ping topics back and forth as they explain the context of each image on the screen. It becomes even funnier when they rely on Eals to interject. (Thinking of you, Paul!)

Sherrard’s resonant voice and deep well of knowledge is more than enough to keep this presentation engaging on his own, though. He has the bearing and gravitas of a Founding Father which made this especially appropriate on a national holiday. He also has the timing of a seasoned stand-up comic, so his discourse on architecture like the Sinking Ship Parking Garage causes you to wonder if you’re at Laughs or the local historical society. It cracks me up when I see people looking around as if they didn’t expect history to be funny.

You’ll never look at local landmarks and relics the same way after you attend a Dorpat-Sherrard event. You might even find yourself ridiculously motivated to save such things. I encourage you to subscribe to their blog, where they post often and feature Sherrard’s photographs, which cannot be described as anything less than pulchritudinous. Some people take pictures. Others gaze into the soul of their subject and make you feel as if you’re witnessing more than a mere mortal should be allowed to see.

After having our minds blown in Kane Hall, we marched westward to the more than 100 year-old statue of George Washington in Red Square. This statue, as I’ve discussed in previous posts, was made possible by the Daughters of the American Revolution and local schoolchildren. It’s fitting that we return every year to honor our first president. As is the case with all presidents, he was not a perfect man, but there is no such thing, and he is unique in the annals of history. I am proud to honor an imperfect man, whose courage helped birth our nation, as my ancestors did.

Both men and women serve in the SAR Fife and Drum Corps. The amount of work they do and the number of events they attend each year is astounding.

Here the SAR color guard is setting up. Note the period uniforms. Every piece of equipment and clothing, every flag has colonial roots and a meaning.

One year when these men brought their muskets, someone called the police. A UW canine unit showed up, and most of our photos from that year show the officer and dog posing with us. This year we didn’t have any such incidents. We always appreciate the students and passersby who stop to participate. Someone inevitably asks, “what are you doing?” We’re happy to explain. We’re also thrilled when they ask for help researching their genealogy so they can join.

Which century was this photo taken in? If it weren’t for the no skateboarding sign, or whatever it is, this could easily be another place and time.

Look who that is. On the right. By George, it’s George. It was somewhat of a transcendental experience to watch George Washington standing before… George Washington to pay tribute. This George knows himself exceedingly well and participates in a variety of events.

Mid-ceremony, some loquacious seagulls caused us to look skyward where there were not one, but two bald eagles cruising directly over our event. This picture only shows one, but what a glorious and significant unscheduled flyby! This was especially meaningful given a discussion about the symbolism of eagles a few days before.

The organizations present take turns lying wreaths at the foot of the statue.

Blur out a couple of background details and you could once again picture this in the late 18th century.

Another joyful aspect to this year’s ceremony was the perfect amount of wind that unfurled the flags as we took photos. The weather can be too cold, too wet, too icy, too breezy, but this year was just right.

Looking good, S, T, V, General Washington, & co.!

As the ceremony was concluding, our great bronze orb suddenly darkened. Looking to the south, we saw this resplendent dragon billowing eastward.

You can see the eye, snout, fire, legs, and wing. I was in awe of this behemoth, bestial cumulus. It didn’t occur to me until later why this, too, was significant. The Green Dragon Tavern in Boston was known as the Headquarters of the Revolution.

Oh Creator, I love your sense of humor. And I love that these men, women, and children come together in nonpartisan organizations to promote history, unity, patriotism, and education regardless of their differences. That ability to love one another as we are and act together for the common good is the glue that holds this democratic republic together. I pray that it continues for centuries more.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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