So I am in Washington, D.C. on "Viv's Big Damn Selfish Vacation" in which I had two priorities: visiting miraielle
while her husband is out of town and geeking out at museums. Lots of museums. I didn't make many other plans with anyone in the area (I hope you will forgive my laxness in arranging get togethers, D.C. area folks), but I wanted to devote my time here to my main priorities, and I have! See, I've been to D.C. three times, and I have only gotten to see a fraction of the cultural attractions, so this is the Time I Am Getting It Right. It's been a lovely visit with my Lynette, too, and I am so glad I came.
Today I was on the 4th of floor of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum when the fatal shooting of a guard occurred.
I'd just gotten through viewing most of the exhibits in the hall when the docents began trying to usher us out. They'd said twice "Ladies and gentlemen, we need to clear the floor please" but most everyone ignored them, since they probably thought - like I did - that we needed to move on to make room for the next group. And I didn't wanna! I'd just got started reading! Finally
one of them said "We have an emergency and we need to clear the building." That finally got people moving (including me, since I'd hurried along and sucked in as much more of the exhibit as I could).
We weren't told anything; in fact, an older guard ushering us to the stairs affably responded to questions with, "Oh, they like to keep us on our toes with drills, so things are fine, keep moving along." I was able to break out my teacher voice by speaking up for a man in a wheelchair with a young son who was trying to get him to the elevator. I got the people in front of us who were sheeping obliviously along to move the hell out of the way so he could get where he needed. He was very appreciative, so I felt good about being a bossy pants.
By the time we got down the stairs, I was grumbling that if this was the result of some middle school brat pulling the fire alarm, I was going to be highly annoyed. But once we were out, I heard the sirens, and I heard two of the guards talking to each other as they waved us on. One said angrily, "Did we kill the motherfucker?" and I knew that something bad had happened. I still didn't know what exactly.
We were waved on and on by the panicked little docents. I felt sorry for them; they were all college-aged girls or just out of college, it looked like, and they didn't know what was going on either. They were just trying to get the herd of tourists where they needed to be, which was not an easy task. Finally we ended up by the Washington Monument, and that's where I stayed a few minutes. I sat down by a group of folks who'd called relatives with access to newa, and they said that a guard had been shot at and the shooter had been shot. Sadly it was much worse than that, as word has come that the guard has died from his wounds.
My evacuation was calm, the staff acted professionally, and I was, at no time, in any fear. In fact, I strolled on over to the Metro to go down to the Museum of the Native American, which I had wanted to visit, too.
I am very thankful I am okay, and that more people were not hurt. I am also very thankful that I bought the books I wanted to commemorate my visit before
I went into the exhibit. I am terribly disappointed I couldn't see the whole exhibit, because I was extremely impressed by the quality of what I saw, but hey. Crimes happen. One of the museum officials told me that I can keep my ticket and whenever I come back, whether it's a couple of years or whatever, I can come in without waiting.
I am saddened by the act of hatred and violence today, and I find the choice of locations to be particularly despicable. But I am okay, and I am safe, if on the righteous fury side of things. I'm heading back to Denver tomorrow, and despite this evil man's actions, he has not ruined my vacation. I just feel so sorry for the guard and his family and co-workers. It is truly a shame that people can't do their job to keep people safe in a freaking museum without risking their lives.ETA
: Thanks those of you who texted, called, or relayed hugs in my direction. All are greatly appreciated.