The voluminous main floor of the National Constitution Center was interesting and educational in and of itself, but an unusual display awaited us on the second floor in the George H. W. Bush Gallery, a room in which the momentous signing of the U.S. Constitution takes on real-life proportions and surrounds visitors in history and metal.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. Normally we’ll choose one major locale as our primary objective, drive that-a-way, and concentrate on exploring the vicinity for a few days before retreating.
We crafted this year’s itinerary with a different approach. Instead of choosing one city as a hub, we focused on one of the motifs that’s recurred through several of our trips: grave sites of Presidents of the United States of America. Our 2018 road trip would effectively have the format and feel of a video game side quest — collecting nine American Presidents across ten presidencies, four states, seven days, and 2000 miles…
Upstairs in Signers’ Hall, 42 bronze statues — the work of Brooklyn-based StudioEIS using all available historical resources, visual as well as descriptive — capture the likenesses of the representatives present at the Constitutional Convention on the day of September 17, 1787. 39 of those men signed the document and moved the shared ideal of America to the next phase of its existence. It didn’t make everyone happy. Strictly speaking, it wasn’t supposed to. Hence the whole “amendment” structure. If everyone agreed on its contents — then or today — we wouldn’t need it in the first place. We’d all simply live in superficial hivemind bliss. For better or worse, America was never meant to be a hivemind.
Past Signers’ Hall was one more room in the corner, containing aged documents of grave import to our nation’s history — drafts of declarations and so forth. Photos were not allowed, and the volunteers on duty were so talkative and insistent on not leaving us alone that I felt too self-conscious to take notes in front of them. They were very nice documents for an imperfect but generally pretty decent country that had to get its start somewhere and somehow.
To be continued!
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