I’ve been sick this week, so I had to call out of my scheduled Friday at WWII. It’s harder for me to call out of volunteering than it is to call out of work, so that tells you how bad I felt. But, I was feeling a little better on Saturday, so I headed in for a shift at Korea. Added bonus: One of my Ranger friends was able to join me for the afternoon.
Ranger, looking out window at a packed street next to the Memorial: I miss our slow periods.
Me: Me, too. I mean, this is crazy.
Ranger: Yeah, I’m glad they come so we can still have jobs, but we never get a break anymore.
Me: This is just way too many people.
We were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) today, and the main event (ok, the only event) was a Junior Ranger exhibit in the World War II Memorial. So, naturally, after learning they were giving out pins and stickers, a Ranger and I had to walk down there.
Visitor: What are all these veterans doing here?
Me: It’s a bunch of Honor Flights.
Visitor: What is that?
Me: The Honor Flight Network flies in veterans from all over the country for free so they can visit the memorial. We have around 8 here today and some of them are very large groups.
Visitor: Where do they come from?
Me: All over the country. Some fly in and out in the same day, some stay for a night or a weekend.
Visitor: And what do they do?
Me: Visit the memorials. It started with WWII, but they also visit Korea and Vietnam.
Visitor: And who pays for that?
Me: The Honor Flight Network.
Visitor: And is it like once a year?
Me: No, it’s on Saturdays and Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Thursdays and sometimes Fridays.
Visitor: So, like once a month?
Me: No, several times a week from March through November. And then there’s usually a special one for Pearl Harbor Day.
Visitor: There are just so many of them.
Me: There are a lot less than there used to be.
Me: Do you have the NHPA 50th anniversary pins?
Ranger: Sure, here you go. You can’t wear this and the NPS centennial pin together.
Me: Oh, that’s OK, I’ve been wearing the centennial pin for 2 years. I can switch out.
Ranger: You can wear the NHPA pin until December.
Me: Is there also a special Junior Ranger badge?
Ranger: There is.
Me: May I see what it looks like?
Ranger: Sure. *Hands me a badge*
Me: Oh wow, this is great. Thanks.
Ranger: Would you like to keep it?
Me: Sure. And may I also have one of your stickers? (Gotta get all the stuff.)
Back at Korea:
Visitor: What is this?
Me: It’s a brochure about the Korean War Veterans Memorial.
Visitor: Oh, OK, I already saw that.
Me: Would you like to take a brochure with you?
Visitor: No. Why is this here?
Visitor: This booth. You have this booth here just to give out this brochure?
Me: Well, we’re here for information. Every site has a booth.
Visitor: I didn’t see a booth at the Lincoln Memorial.
Me: OK, you’re right, there is no booth for Lincoln. The Rangers are in the chamber or on the stairs or in the plaza.
Visitor: Then every site does not have a booth.
Visitor leans waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay in the window and halfway across my counter: *Whispers* Where is the bathroom?
Me, pointing very forcefully to move him back out of my personal space: Up there, inside the door to the left of the Lincoln Memorial stairs.
Me, to Ranger: Did you see how far he leaned in here?
Ranger: Yeah, he was way inside.
Me: I was frightened.
Very drunk visitor. I mean, seriously, I was getting drunk just talking to him: Where is the MLK Statue?
Me: To get to the memorial, follow this sidewalk to Independence Avenue…
Visitor: And turn right?
Me: No, cross over Independence Avenue…
Visitor: To where?
Me: To the other side of Independence Avenue, then turn left. Walk about 5 minutes up the street and you’ll see the MLK Memorial.
Visitor: On which side of the street?
Me: Umm, on the side of the street where you are.
Visitor, making a cross with his fingers: I’m going to walk down this sidewalk and cross at a four-way road crossing…
Me, putting my arm on the counter: No, you are going to cross over this one street and make a left. Walk about 5 minutes and the MLK Memorial will be on your right.
Visitor: Umm, ok.
Volunteer: And how long have you been coming down here?
Me: 11 1/2 years.
Volunteer: Really? Why haven’t we ever run into each other before?
Me: Oh, we have run into each other many, many times. (Side note: Including earlier this afternoon)
Volunteer: We have? Well, I just don’t remember. I’m 73 and you just can’t expect me to remember names. I mean, but I am usually good with faces.
Me: If you say so.
Ranger: You should run for President.
Ranger: Yes, you’re a lawyer, and you’d be a much better choice than anyone who is running this year.
Me: But who would vote for me?
Ranger: I would.
Me: OK, that’s one vote.
Ranger: Well, I’d get the other Rangers and the Volunteers to vote for you too.
Me: So I’d get like 400 votes? Maybe 500?
Ranger: You could get elected.
Honor Flight Guardian: May I take some brochures for a few of our veterans?
Me: Sure, how many people do you have?
Guardian: Well, we brought 8 buses.
Me: 8 buses? Did you leave anyone home? Are you with the Indianapolis group?
Guardian: Yes, it’s a long day but it’s worth it.
Me: Indianapolis is one of my favorite places in the world to go.
Honor Flight Veteran: You haven’t gone many places, have you?