Yesterday morning I drove up to Leesburg to visit my daughter, Jena, and her family. It got really dark just as it was getting light about six am and a huge lightening strike in the distance signaled the approaching bad weather. Soon it was raining so hard I had to pull over and wait for the storm to let up a little bit.
But that was nothing compared to the storm that broke today over Washington DC as a shooter marched into the Holocaust Museum and reportedly shot and killed one of the guards near the entrance. I was sitting outside the National Museum of Natural History when the sirens began wailing and police cars started flying down Constitutional Ave.
I didn’t discover what happened until later when I returned to my daughter’s house and found her watching the news.
And I thought about the person who went to work this morning and never returned home. When I took the Metro down to the Smithsonian he was still alive. When I watched Ben Stiller talk about all the museums in a short and amusing film he was walking around and totally unaware that his life was near an end. When I explored the sculpture garden across from the Hirshhorn Museum he was doing his job and thinking about any number of things.
When I was taking photos of airplanes in the National Air and Space Museum he was breathing the air and listening to the sounds of tourists entering the building. It was all just a moment ago.
And when I was taking photos of gems in the NMNH he was at some point being confronted by a hate filled old man with a rifle who shot him without hesitation and ended his life.
Earlier it had seemed like such a pleasant and peaceful day. But then there had been a huge bolt of lightening at dawn.
I wish there was something I could have done.
Later I heard them talking on the radio about this man. His name was Stephen Johns and he was “the gentle giant” who always had a smile around the workplace. When I heard this I realized that I had met him on our visit to the Holocaust Museum last year.
I was having trouble getting through the metal detector without setting it off. This happens when I wear suspenders sometimes. So I was having problems and feeling self-conscious about it all. This large guard took me off to the side and helped me get myself together. I threw my coat to the floor and banged a few other things around. But he didn’t say a word or even give me “the look”. He just helped me complete the process. We ended up having a few pleasant words and I went on my way.
I’m sure it was him. And I hope my prayers help him on his way too.