Riggs Park / Petworth (October 25, 2022)
At 4:57 pm on Monday, June 22, 2009, a Washington Metro train rear-ended another stopped train, killing nine people and injuring at least eighty more. One of those killed was Cameron “Ty” Williams who had been a colleague and friend of Mal’s in the 1990s. They bonded over music as Ty tried, unsuccessfully, to convince Mal of the greatness of rap, lending him CDs and video tapes (remember those) of his favorite rap artists. Mal was reminded of Ty today when we came across Legacy Memorial Park that is located near the site of the crash and is dedicated to the lives lost in the collision.
Next to the Park was one of the largest community gardens that we have seen during our walks.
Befitting a grey misty day that can only be described as Northern European, the walk turned out to be quite somber as we moved on from Legacy Memorial Park to Rock Creek Cemetery and then Soldiers’ Home Cemetery. Rock Creek Cemetery, established in 1719, includes over 86 acres of natural and rolling landscape. Lauren’s mother, who grew up nearby, remembers going for long walks through the cemetery with Lauren’s father when they were still dating. Many prominent Americans are interned on its grounds, including two famous men of letters, Gore Vidal and Upton Sinclair.
Directly across the road from Rock Creek Cemetery is the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery. It is one of only two national cemeteries administered by the Department of the Army, the other being Arlington National Cemetery. Buried in the cemetery are many famous American soldiers, including Thomas Boyne, Benjamin Brown and John Derry who were all Buffalo soldiers. Buffalo Soldiers was the nickname given by the Native American tribes to the African-American regiments that were formed in 1866 to fight in the Indian Wars. They are also the subject of Bob Marley’s song “Buffalo Soldier”. Marley identified with the Buffalo Soldiers as examples of black men who performed with courage and valor and persevered despite endemic racism and prejudice.
Also buried in the cemetery is Agnes von Kurowsky, an American nurse during World War I who was the basis for the character “Catherine Barkley” in Ernest Hemingway’s, “A Farewell to Arms”.
Dotted throughout the District are a number of forts that were built during the Civil War to protect the capitol. Fort Slocum, named for Colonel John Slocum who commanded the fort, was the home of 25 artillery pieces. Now it is a quiet park.
We are constantly surprised at how many small store front churches we come across during our walks. Here is another, The Faith Full Gospel Deliverence Church of God.