Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Capital Capitol

This weekend I took a quick and almost impromptu quick ("almost" because I only planned it a week prior) trip to Sacramento. A friend of mine is on the lecture circuit as a presenter for a women's conference put on by a book publishing company. How it all came about (my attendance there and going to see this friend) was a whirlwind and all the pieces fell into place in such a way that confirmed that's what I needed to be doing and where I needed to be. That's a story for another day and another entry.

This is about Sacramento. The hotel I stayed at was across the street from the convention center - the venue I'd be attending on Saturday, and both were about three or four blocks from Capitol park - where the state capitol building is. I went for a run on Saturday morning - partly for the exercise, partly to scope out the mall I'd be meeting yet another friend at for dinner, and partly because I wanted to see the capitol and the grounds.

The building and grounds is a California state park. It sits on 40 acres of land, and even in the dim pre-dawn light, it was beautiful.

The capitol building is framed by two other buildings. I loved the motto above each one. (Not sure why the flags were flying at half mast.)

At first I thought that's all there was, but as I continued with my run, I found the rest of the grounds. There were a lot of beautiful plants and trees, each labeled with its name and native location. Then I saw a statue of some firemen, and I paused for a closer look. It was a memorial for firefighters in California who have died on the job. It was beautiful.

Then I found the Vietnam memorial - all solders from California, listed by city and including their rank and age, who died or are still missing in action during the Vietnam conflict. Even with music still playing in my headphones for my run, I was deeply moved. I looked for both of my hometowns - Burbank and Walnut Creek, to see if there were any names I recognized.

My sweat mingled with tears - a small salt water offering for those who have given their lives - the ultimate sacrifice - for my freedom or that of others. Most heartbreaking, perhaps, is the names of those still missing in action. Any war or "conflict," in any cause, on any soil, is heartbreaking, regardless of cause. I am glad I had the opportunity to pause and reflect on blessings of freedom before continuing on in my own little galaxy of first-world problems.

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