Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: 24 Hours (01/27/11)
- TITLE: MOURNING ON THAT DAY
By Lillian Rhoades
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Days of infamy carve out their place in history without remedy. Today was no exception.
The day breaks much like the day before. Hints of sunlight pervade the dawn with a promise for more. As the morning reaches full bloom, the sun’s rays pound the building’s tall, gothic columns with a vengeance, offering a modicum of warmth on a cold and blistery day. It’s a day for sunglasses, gloves, and perhaps, for mourning.
Anticipation fills the air from shore to shore and beyond. After today, battle swords, long drawn would be cast aside. Today was the day to settle the score, not with blood; at least not the blood of those engaged in the conflict, but by decree.
In a little town miles away, a similar dawning of a different kind takes place. Not that the sun wasn’t shining all around the modest white farmhouse house with a wraparound porch, it was indeed. Wide open, snow packed fields that lay in the sun’s pathway showcase hundreds of diamonds spread out in sparkling array. Inside, the sun has little influence. In the second floor bedroom Greta pulls the blankets closer around her and waits for the heat from the wood stove downstairs to destroy the chill. It could not destroy the secret held close to her heart. She would tell no one until after today.
While Greta covers against the cold, the sun continues to bathe the sixteen marble columns where nine men, draped in black robes gather behind bronzed doors shut tight against public dissent or outcry. Today, they would decide the fate of Greta and all the Gretas of the nation. At the end of the day, that decision would be unexpectedly dwarfed by the death of the nation’s thirty-sixth President. For now, no one sees that far past the morning. All eyes focus on the big, tall, impressive building with sixteen shining columns basking in the sun.
Far away, clear across snow peaked mountains, frozen rivers, highways awash in winter, to a place divided by time zones, Ollie sets her radio to catch the news. No hints of morning chill here. In the seventies today, she recalls and shivers in anticipation. It’s almost lunch time; any time now. She’s also keeping her secret until after today.
Somewhere between morning and 4:39 pm, before President Johnson succumbs to a heart attack, nine men, behind bronze doors announces their decision, and although separated by miles, Greta and Ollie are instantly united in victory with millions of women who eagerly long to get on with their lives. Was this the day to mourn?
On that day, battle swords, long drawn were not cast aside. The score had yet to be settled for the sake of the blood of those unable to fight. Many would argue this was the day when one nation lost its moral compass and took a turn for the worse; when the scourge of God’s anger began to roll like thunder. Others disagree.
In the din of conflicting opinion framed by the dark shadow of controversy, the battle rages on, the questions linger.
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