All places are, in a sense, the same. But there's still something magic about certain locations where certain things happened—the battlefield cemetery where in 1863 Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, for instance, or the steps in front of the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King Jr. spoke in 1963. That magic comes to mind again today, when reading a little essay that appears in the middle of the New York Times op-ed page. Self-described former photojournalist Matt Mendelsohn tells of his visit late Tuesday evening to the Lincoln Memorial. A TV news crew is waiting on the plaza below, doing nothing, disappointed that no huge post-election crowds have converged on the site to celebrate for their cameras. Mendelsohn reports on something far more important that he saw:
... I found 25 or so people who had made their way in the dark to the marble steps of the memorial and stood silently around a lone transistor radio. On the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, they listened, some crying in the drizzle, as Barack Obama began his address before the Grant Park multitude.
And so I climbed the memorial steps and came upon that small group listening to the radio. (What is it about people gathered around a transistor radio?) Surely there was someone else around—a videographer, a print reporter. But there wasn't. ... The crowd standing in the shadow of Lincoln had the scoop, a profound event to themselves, of the people and by the people.