Memorial Day weekend did not turn out as I had predicted https://richardmorrisauthor.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/tis-the-season/. In that post I had commented that Well Considered was likely to sell well in Bowie, as the setting of the novel is there, and that Memorial Day at the Memorial Day Writers’ Project near the Vietnam wall was where Cologne No. 10 for Men and my Skytroopers CD would be popular. One Memorial Day my wife had to return home to resupply copies of Skytroopers. This time I was partially correct.
At Old Bowie Artsfest I was pleased to see Well Considered sell to a bigger audience than I had expected. This was even more surprising because this is a new festival in its first year with a small number of vendors and small but steady traffic. We were quite impressed with the Charis Center in Old Bowie and hope they will be able to do whatever needed to stay in their location in a previous Episcopal Church. They provide arts classes such as drama, dance, visual arts, and music to homeschoolers during the day and then in an afterschool arts program and summer programs. There is a hearing coming up regarding the property which could affect their operation. In addition to passersby who were attracted to Well Considered, a number of people were interested in our poster advertising my July 29, 2012 reading at Busboys and Poets in Hyattsville along with David Levy, Julia Duin, and Andra Damron. Some people had been to Busboys and Poets in Washington but not to the Hyattsville location and seemed interested in combining our upcoming book reading with eating that wonderful food that Busboys serves.
On to Memorial Day … although we had heard on the radio that Constitution Avenue beside the mall was closed in preparation for President Obama to speak at the Vietnam memorial, we had no idea that pedestrians would not be able to cross the street. So we had to drag our books, tables, water, etc. from 20th Street to 18th to be able to cross over and then back to 20th to locate our Memorial Day Writers Project tent.
It was a disappointment to discover that approximately $1,000 of rental tent, rubber floor matting, chairs, and sound equipment had disappeared overnight when the usual tents for Memorial Day and Veterans Day all had to be relocated to make room for the security perimeter around the wall and the elaborate setup for the President’s appearance.
The usual parade of veterans passing by on their way to the ceremony did not happen; we were in a different location than usual. All we got was a parade of baffled tourists and residents coming from two directions around the pool and ending up at the security barricade along Constitution Avenue with no signs and no one directing them as to how to continue down or across Constitution Avenue, how to get to bathrooms since the bathrooms and porta-potties were all inside the security perimeter and unavailable to the public without going through the metal detector checkpoint, or when they would have access to see the memorial wall. We observed the VFW nearest the barricade becoming the unofficial question answerer after those of us who were there for the whole day finally started getting answers to some of our questions. The speaker system for the event, which was located right behind the tent we had taken over from a group who was not returning after Saturday, overpowered most of our readings and songs, which we were doing without our sound equipment, and the speakers began their music and narrations long before the ceremony started. So, yes it was a disappointment that we did not get to honor veterans with our performances as we do every Memorial Day and Veterans Day and that we sold hardly any books or CDs.
But as a Vietnam veteran (rifle platoon leader, 1st Air Cavalry Div. 67-68) I feel proud and honored that President Obama issued his official “Thank You” and “Welcome Home” to Vietnam veterans (and also honored veterans of other wars). I don’t think any other president has officially honored Vietnam veterans this way. I was moved by his words.
Other than this, the lunacy of this afternoon seemed to fit in perfectly with the satire in my Vietnam War novel Cologne No. 10 for Men.